The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services wants feedback on plans to update the way it reports and responds to certain animal diseases.

Stakeholders in animal agriculture have until January 16, 2015 to submit feedback to the agency on a National List of Reportable Animal Diseases (NLRAD) and a Proposed Framework for Response to Emerging Animal Diseases. Then, based on the comments received on the NLRAD, the agency says it will likely begin the standard rulemaking process by publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register.

The NLRAD would be a “single, standardized list of reportable animal diseases” implemented through federal-state cooperation that would identify the individuals or entities responsible for reporting and specify how the disease are to be reported.

The agency says developing and implementing a NLRAD will benefit the industry by “enhancing U.S. animal disease surveillance and standardization of animal disease reporting, and improve international transparency and relations.” Further, APHIS says it will help facilitate commerce at the national, interstate and international levels, assist in meeting disease reporting obligations to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and international trading partners, support the generation of export certifications; contribute to the assessment and reporting of listed zoonotic and endemic animal diseases; and facilitate response to an emerging disease or issue in the United States.

APHIS worked with various animal health stakeholders to develop the proposed NRLAD list, which is based on the OIE list of reportable diseases. The list is divided into notifiable and monitored diseases that affect multiple species as well as diseases specific to cattle, swine, sheep and goats, equine, fish, amphibians, mollusc, crustaceans, bees, lagomorphs, and “other.”

The second document on which APHIS is seeking stakeholder feedback is a Proposed Framework for Response to Emerging Animal Diseases in the United States, which the agency says will complement the NLRAD and will help them identify and evaluate emerging diseases and define appropriate responses.

APHIS says rapid detection and response to emerging diseases are critical to animal agriculture, noting rapid response can help mitigate negative impacts on animal health, the economy, food security and public health.

The framework document calls an approach involving four goals: 

  • Undertake global awareness, assessment, and preparedness for animal diseases or pathogens not currently in the United States that may be of animal or public health concern or have trade implications;  
  • Detect, identify, and characterize disease events;  
  • Communicate findings and inform stakeholders; and  
  • Respond quickly to minimize the impact of disease events.  

APHIS says a fifth goal not detailed in the document would address recovery from the disease event.

The documents are available on the APHIS website at the following locations:

Comments can be emailed to VS.SPRS.Feedback@aphis.usda.gov