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APHIS revises CWD program standards

Proposal aligns language in CWD program standards with Code of Federal Regulations, among other changes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced March 28 that it is revising its chronic wasting disease (CWD) program standards to better meet the needs of both animal health officials and the cervid industry.

To ensure consistent terminology, APHIS said it is aligning the language in the program standards with the Code of Federal Regulations.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), a progressive and fatal brain disease that can affect cervids, including deer, elk and moose. The CWD Herd Certification Program (HCP) provides a national approach to control CWD in farmed cervids. The program is a cooperative effort between APHIS, state animal health and wildlife agencies and farmed cervid owners. APHIS coordinates with state agencies to encourage cervid owners to certify their herds and comply with the HCP standards to prevent the introduction and spread of CWD.

APHIS said the revisions cover a variety of topics, including: adding guidelines for live animal testing in specific situations, clarifying how disease investigations should be handled, aligning with the Code of Federal Regulations’ requirement for mortality testing, simplifying fencing requirements, adding biosecurity recommendations and describing the intended approach to update the CWD-susceptible species list.

APHIS also outlined factors for determining indemnity and includes a table that outlines possible reductions in herd certification status that states may consider for herd owners who do not submit required mortality surveillance samples or consistently submit unusable testing samples.

The revisions are based on input from internal and external stakeholders, including scientific experts on CWD and TSEs from the U.S. and Canada, a working group of state and federal animal health and wildlife officials and representatives from the farmed cervid industry. These stakeholders reviewed the program standards, identified sections for revision and provided options for those revisions, APHIS noted.

APHIS issued a summary of the working group’s discussions and recommended changes to the CWD program standards at the 2016 U.S. Animal Health Assn. meeting. The summary was available for public comment, and 35 written comments were received.

This notice is on display in the Federal Register at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2018-06341.pdf. Members of the public will be able to view the evaluation and submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011. APHIS will accept comments until April 30.

The revised program standards will take effect after the 30-day comment period ends, unless members of the public raise significant regulatory issues during the comment period.

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