The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Federal Order suspending the interstate movement of all live swine, swine germplasm, swine products, and swine byproducts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland United States until APHIS can establish sufficient mitigations to authorize such movement. This Federal Order, effective Sept. 17, is the final action in a series of safeguards needed to establish an African swine fever (ASF) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
APHIS is taking this action out of an abundance of caution to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd and protect the interests and livelihoods of U.S. pork producers.
“ASF has not been detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and we continue to coordinate with both territories to increase education and outreach and improve biosecurity,” the agency stated.
On July 28, APHIS confirmed ASF in samples collected from pigs in the Dominican Republic through an existing cooperative surveillance program. After confirmation, APHIS quickly increased existing surveillance and mitigations within Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On August 26, APHIS announced its intent to establish a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)-recognized foreign animal disease protection zone around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to prevent ASF from being introduced there or the mainland United States. The OIE provides for the establishment of a protection zone within an area free of disease, as a temporary measure in response to an increased risk from a neighboring country or zone of different animal health status.
When the protection zone is established, APHIS will have processes in place in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to:
- Prohibit movement of live swine and products out of the protection zone.
- Conduct appropriate surveillance within the protection zone to quickly detect introductions of disease.
- Conduct a public education campaign relating to biosecurity on farms and other establishments, prohibitions on movement of live swine and products outside the region, contacting authorities to report clinical cases, and similar actions.
In the coming weeks, APHIS will detail the actions taken to create the protection zone in a dossier, which will be submitted to the OIE. Once the dossier has been submitted to the OIE, APHIS will work to confirm that individual countries recognize and accept the zone(s). Their recognition will ensure the continued flow of U.S. pork and live swine exports.