Thursday, May 27, 2004

Florida Restricts Animal Imports

LaBelle, Fl (May 26, 2004) -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services
Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has filed an emergency rule to place
restrictions on the importation of animals from states affected with
vesicular stomatitis following a confirmed case in Texas.

Vesicular stomatitis is a highly contagious, viral disease that affects
horses, cattle, swine and occasionally sheep, goats and deer. The virus
can also cause flu-like symptoms in people working with infected animals.
Symptoms on animals include blister-like lesions in the mouth, on the
tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats. While the virus doesn't usually
kill the animals, it does result in significant weight loss and milk
production loss.

It is also difficult to distinguish between this virus and foot-and-mouth
disease, a devastating livestock disease found outside the United States.
States and other countries often impose movement restrictions on animal
from vesicular stomatitis-affected areas.

The emergency rule was filed with the Florida Administrative Weekly after
Texas reported a case of the disease on a farm in western Texas with nine
horses and eight cattle. Texas has already quarantined the affected
premises, prohibiting the export of any hoofed animals from that area.
However, the disease could turn up in other areas and, in an abundance of
caution, the emergency rule will place restrictions on animal imports into
Florida from Texas.

"I'm pleased to see that Texas has taken immediate action quarantining the
impacted area," Bronson said. "But the possibility that this disease could
be in other areas makes it imperative that we have rules in place to
prevent the disease from being imported into Florida."

The emergency rule will require veterinary inspection from hoofed animals
coming from states affected with vesicular stomatitis to have an official
certificate of veterinary inspection stating that they are free of clinical
signs of this disease and have not been exposed nor located within 10 miles
of a positive premises within the previous 30 days and that they receive
prior permission in order for them to be imported into Florida. All
animals meeting these requirements will be quarantined upon entry in
Florida for at least 14 days and be re-inspected by a Department
representative and found free of disease prior to quarantine release.

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