Hazardous waste, rabies quarantine policies addressed

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At its November meeting, the Executive Board revisited policy statements regarding hazardous waste and the quarantining of cats and dogs in Hawaii.

On recommendation from the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, the board has revised the policy on transportation of hazardous substances. The statement, which had not been updated since 1975, now reads as follows:

It is absolutely essential to the conduct of the professional work of veterinarians that animal tissues and other substances for diagnostic purposes be shipped by common carrier, including passenger-carrying vehicles, aircraft, buses, parcel post, etc.

Numerous instances have occurred, however, when such material was so inadequately packaged that materials arrived at destination in such a condition as to cause contamination of vehicles and their cargo and create potential public health hazards.

There is no health hazard or sanitation problem associated with laboratory specimens when they are properly packaged to prevent leakage or breaks in the containers. Proper packaging and labeling of such materials in a responsible manner will facilitate accurate diagnostics, assure continued service by common carriers, and eliminate any adverse public health or perception problems.

Veterinarians are urged to review their methods of preparing hazardous substance shipments and ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable guidelines.

The board also rescinded a policy supporting a 120-day rabies quarantine for dogs and cats entering Hawaii. After reviewing this policy, the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine came to the conclusion that the policy has been overcome by events. Hawaii has changed its quarantine policy, on the basis of a risk analysis, to allow minimal or no quarantine, provided the requirements are met regarding rabies vaccination, identification, and serologic testing.