from Sid Miller-thank you, Sid. Notice that in paragraph four, producers who had registered their premises already were given the opportunity to opt out.
Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC)
Commission Meeting Summary
Feb. 24, 2009
In his report to the TAHC Commissioners, Dr. Bob Hillman, executive director, provided an update on the cattle fever tick situation in south Texas. In mid-January, the USDA announced $4.9 million in additional fever tick funding, less than a third of the $15 million requested by the TAHC, USDA and associations in July 2008 to pay for personnel, equipment and supplies to continue battling the fever tick outbreak, which currently involves 109 infested premises under quarantine.
The largest number of fever-tick infested premises continues to be in Zapata County—with 49, and Starr County, with 22. New tick-infested premises are being identified at the rate of one every 2 ½ days, about the same rate as the previous federal fiscal year, Dr. Hillman explained. Progress is being made in the temporary preventive fever tick quarantine area near Carrizo Springs, the size of which may be reduced in coming weeks.
To address concerns regarding the movement of fever-tick infested cattle from south Texas, some potential solutions are being explored to ensure that cattle are inspected and dipped prior to movement northward. Among the considerations: dipping cattle at the seven south Texas livestock markets—an option that has been opposed, due to the ability to “skirt” a market and move cattle northward to other markets, forgoing the inspection process. Another more viable option is to identify a strategic line (marked by a road or other geographical marker) north of the permanent and temporary quarantine zones. Cattle being moved north of the strategic line would undergo a “scratch” inspection and be dipped or run through a spray box, with the possible exception of slaughter cattle, which would be inspected, and if tick-free, allowed to move directly to the plant.
Dr. Hillman reported on the TAHC’s outreach efforts to about 33,000 persons who have registered their premises in Texas under the voluntary National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The recipients of the TAHC information were encouraged to update their contact information, were provided an opportunity to “opt out” of the program, and were also supplied with information on Texas’ proposed cattle trichomoniasis program. About 100 premises registrants requested removal from the premises registration system.
Dr. Hillman noted that the USDA published a proposed animal identification numbering systems rule on January 13, 2009. (A copy of the proposed regulation is posted on the TAHC’s web site at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us.) Beginning at the implementation date of the rule, producers engaged in animal health programs, such as the brucellosis, tuberculosis, and scrapie programs, would need to have a premises identification number. The rule clarifies official identification devices and methods, and notes that any official identification device can be used to identify livestock. Beginning a year afteradoption, this rule would specify that the only official AIN (animal identification numbers with 15 digits), would be those with the U.S country code “840.” Animal identification numbers may be used on approved radio frequency identification (RFID) or non-RFID devices. The 840 RFID animal identification tags could be used if a producer chose to use them, but they would not be required. Producers could continue to have their animals identified with other tags, such as the brucellosis tag.
The scrapie flock identification number would continue, but it would be required to correlate to a premises identification number.
Premises identification numbers would be standardized to a seven alpha-numeric characters, and this would be the only premises identifier used for either voluntary premises registration or during a disease program event.
The USDA regulations would prohibit the removal of official identification devices except at slaughter.
If a producer chooses to identify his or her animals—or if the animals are involved in a disease eradication program, the identification device must correlate to the premises registration number. This system would provide a “book end” system, providing information on the origin and slaughter of an animal. (This USDA proposed rule does not apply to equine.)
Dr. Hillman reported on a 2.5 percent TAHC budget reduction—totally $251,896—that was required for the current fiscal year. The reduction was accomplished by reducing agency travel and training, and by freezing vacant positions. He noted that this cutback may also be included in the 2010-2011 agency budget, and several vacant positions will be held open until more funding information is obtained from the legislature.
Dr. Dee Ellis, assistant state veterinarian, reported that results of a USDA swine brucellosis review of Texas are pending, due to perceived inadequate slaughter surveillance. The TAHC had applied for Texas’ swine brucellosis-free status. Texas is currently the only U.S. state without the coveted status. Dr. Ellis noted that most Texas sows are shipped out of Texas for slaughter, and many of the animals arrive at the plants with back tags identifying them to other states. He will continue to work with Oklahoma and other states that slaughter Texas sows to acquire required slaughter surveillance data, the final step to fulfilling requirements for the “free” status.
Momentum is increasing for evolving equine infectious anemia (EIA) from a “control” program to an eradication effort, Dr. Ellis reported. He said the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the U.S. Animal Health Association have both urged the USDA to give “at-risk” states like Texas cooperative funding to wipe out EIA. He said the resolution was recently discussed with the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s health committee.
After Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) was detected recently at a Louisiana horse track, Dr. Ellis said the TAHC, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and Texas Racing Commission have discussed a response protocol, in the event EHV-1 is detected at a Texas race track. The virus of equine animals can cause respiratory illness and abortions, but in some cases, can result in a neurological disease, which is known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM).
Dr. Ellis updated the Commissioners on the Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) outbreak. (Two CEM news releases are posted on the TAHC web site at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us, and information appears on the USDA web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/cem/index.shtml.) Of the 11 positive stallions detected as of February 24, three are in Indiana, four are in Kentucky, one is in Texas, and three are in Wisconsin. Three positive mares also have been detected; one each in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Another 75 exposed stallions in 13 states and 534 additional exposed mares in 41 states are under hold order and undergoing the testing and treatment regimen. Two of the exposed stallions and 35 of the exposed mares were traced to Texas.
The TAHC Commissioners recognized four staff members for long-term service to the agency. They include Chief Accountant Debbie Metzler, 35 years; Program Records Specialist Erlinda Rodela and Herd Status & Permits Specialist Rita Vasquez, both 30 years; and Director of Laboratories Dale Preston, 20 years of service.
Gene Snelson, general counsel, updated the Commissioners on the administrative penalties assessed or collected from four producers who violated identification requirements (tagging) of dairy cattle prior to moving them from their herd of origin. The producers could have had their cases heard by the State Office of Administrative Hearings, but the four offenders instead signed and returned the Agreed Orders and either paid or made arrangements to pay their administrative penalties, ranging from $500 to $600.
The TAHC Commissioners adopted the Texas Cattle Trichomoniasis Program that includes regulations making the disease reportable in Texas, entry requirements for bulls, Texas change of possession regulations and certification standards for private veterinary practitioners who collect samples for testing. The new regulations involved adoptions to the Texas Administrative Code, including adding Chapter 38, “Trichomoniasis,” and amendments toChapter 45, “Reportable Diseases,” and Chapter 51, “Entry Requirements.” A news release explaining the Texas Cattle Trichomoniasis Program’s regulations is posted on the TAHC web site at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us.
The Commissioners also amended Chapter 54, “Domestic and Exotic Fowl Registration,” adding a new section, Chapter 54.9, “Live Bird Marketing System.” The regulations were developed to enhance poultry disease prevention, control and response. The regulations address not only the markets, where live birds are selected and slaughtered on site for purchasers, but also the production units, distributors, haulers, dealers, wholesalers and other participants in the live bird marketing system.
In a nutshell, the regulations require that:
· live bird production units, distributors, and live bird markets register and be licensed with the TAHC’s Fowl Registration Program.
· production, distribution and marketing facilities undergo random inspections of facilities and conveyances for cleanliness, and compliance with maintenance of flock testing records.
· birds moved in the live bird marketing system (from production unit to distributor, or distributor to market) must be identified by the premises of origin and appropriate date or lot number to keep the shipment distinguished from other lots. If identification or test documentation does not accompany the shipment, the birds are to be prohibited from entering the premises.
· the production, distribution and market personnel must receive biosecurity training. Training records must be maintained in personnel files and available for inspection by state and federal animal health officials.
· all birds provided to a distributor or directly to the live bird market must originate from an avian influenza test-negative flock. There are four categories of production units and testing requirements:
o AI-monitored flock: tested monthly for AI (avian influenza) for at least three months under approved methods. At least 30 birds per flock are tested negative monthly by an approved laboratory.
o Established flock: a flock maintained together for at least 21 days prior to sample collection, with no additions to the flock. To qualify for the first shipment into the live bird marketing system, or to re-qualify after any breaks in the monthly testing regimen, 30 birds must be tested negative for AI within 10 days prior to movement.
o Commingled flock: poultry from multiple sources assembled for one or more shipments. When untested birds are added, previous tests are voided. The flock must wait 21 days prior to resampling. At least 30 birds must test negative for AI within 10 days prior to movement.
o Nonmonitored flock: this flock has not been on a testing program for at least three months.
To qualify for sale, 30 birds in the flock must be tested negatie within 10 days prior to movement.
· if birds at a live bird market test positive for a reportable fowl disease, the market will undergo mandatory closure, and the birds will be depopulated. The market must be cleaned and disinfected, and be inspected and tested by state or federal animal health officials prior to being reopened.
The next TAHC Commission meeting will be held Tuesday, June 2, 2009, in Austin.