June 01, 2000

 

 Paratuberculosis regulations changed

Posted May 15, 2000


A final rule in the April 10 Federal Register states that the USDA-APHIS is amending regulations regarding movement of animals with paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) and testing for the disease.

The requirements for interstate transport of animals are being amended to update the regulations and remove restrictions that do not appear necessary to prevent the spread of Johne's disease via the interstate movement of animals that are positive on an official Johne's disease test.

The USDA also is identifying an official test for the detection of Johne's disease in domestic animals. Finally, nomenclature will be changed so that all government references to "paratuberculosis" will be replaced with references to "Johne's disease." These changes became effective as of May 10, 2000.

It was in the March 22, 1999 Federal Register that the USDA-APHIS originally proposed amending the regulations regarding interstate movement of domestic animals with Johne's disease for slaughter or for the collection of germ plasm, changing the nomenclature, and identifying an official test. Comments concerning the proposal were solicited and received from the AVMA, a state veterinary association, a beef association, two dairy associations, and a state advisory committee on Johne's disease.

Concerns were raised regarding proposed provisions that would allow the interstate movement of Johne's-positive animals for the collection of germ plasm (semen, embryos, and ova). The March 22 proposal had stated that artificial insemination and embryo transfer were considered to present a low risk of transmitting Johne's disease, and allowing interstate movement of positive animals for germ plasm collection would allow herd owners to salvage valuable genetics and continue an animal's lineage.

On the basis of these comments, and because germ plasm from positive animals may be collected on the premises of origin, this final rule will not allow the interstate movement of positive animals for germ plasm collection. The final rule does not place any restrictions on the collection of germ plasm at the premises of origin.

The final rule allows interstate movement of domestic animals that are positive on an official test for Johne's disease, but only to a recognized slaughtering establishment or to an approved livestock facility for sale to such an establishment. There may be circumstances, including pilot projects, where other interstate movements may be appropriate. The final rule, therefore, provides that the administrator may, on request in specific cases, allow animals that are positive to an official Johne's disease test to be moved interstate to other locations and for other purposes, provided such movement is conducted under conditions prescribed by the administrator to prevent the spread of Johne's disease. The administrator must notify animal health officials of the states involved of any such action.

APHIS defines an official Johne's disease test as an organism detection test, such as a fecal culture or DNA probe, approved by the administrator and conducted in a laboratory approved by the administrator. A list of currently approved laboratories and the requirements for obtaining approval are available from the Diagnostic Bacteriology Laboratory, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, PO Box 844, Ames, IA 50010.

On the basis of this final rule, interstate movement of a Johne's-positive animal to a recognized slaughtering establishment or to an approved livestock facility for sale to such an establishment is acceptable if the animal bears an official eartag, is shipped with an owner-shipper statement, and is moved to the destination in one, continuous movement without unloading. These changes will allow herd owners to remove infected animals from their premises sooner and decrease the possibility of these animals infecting others on the premises. These changes, compared with the previous requirements, will allow APHIS to better enforce restrictions on interstate movement.

For further information, write Dr. Joseph S. VanTiem, Senior Staff Veterinarian, National Animal Health Programs, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 43, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; or phone (301) 734-7716.