[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 112 (Wednesday, June 11, 2003)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 34779-34781]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-14723]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 82

[Docket No. 02-117-8]


Exotic Newcastle Disease; Removal of Areas from Quarantine

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Interim rule and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are amending the exotic Newcastle disease regulations by 
removing Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero Counties, NM, Hudspeth County, TX, 
and portions of El Paso County, TX, from the list of quarantined areas. 
This action removes restrictions on the movement of birds, poultry, and 
certain other articles from those areas.

DATES: This interim rule was effective June 5, 2003. We will consider 
all comments that we receive on or before August 11, 2003.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by postal mail/commercial delivery 
or by e-mail. If you use postal mail/commercial delivery, please send 
four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to: Docket 
No. 02-117-8, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 
3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state 
that your comment refers to Docket No. 02-117-8. If you use e-mail, 
address your comment to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Your comment must 
be contained in the body of your message; do not send attached files. 
Please include your name and address in your message and ``Docket No. 
02-117-8'' on the subject line.
    You may read any comments that we receive on this docket in our 
reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA 
South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, 
DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, 
please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related 
information, including the names of organizations and individuals who 
have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at 
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Aida Boghossian, Senior Staff 
Veterinarian, Emergency Programs Staff, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 
41, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-8073.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Exotic Newcastle disease (END) is a contagious and fatal viral 
disease affecting the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems of 
birds and poultry. END is so virulent that many birds and poultry die 
without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent 
can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. END can infect and cause 
death even in vaccinated poultry.
    The regulations in ``Subpart A--Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)'' (9 
CFR 82.1 through 82.16, referred to below as the regulations) were 
established to prevent the spread of END in the United States in the 
event of an outbreak. In Sec.  82.3, paragraph (a) provides that any 
area where birds or poultry infected with END are located will be 
designated as a quarantined area, and that a quarantined area is any 
geographical area, which may be a premises or all or part of a State, 
deemed by epidemiological evaluation to be sufficient to contain all 
birds or poultry known to be infected with or exposed to END. Portions 
of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas are designated as 
quarantined areas in Sec.  82.3(c) of the regulations. As a result, the 
interstate movement from the quarantined areas of birds, poultry, 
products, and materials that could spread END is prohibited or 
restricted. Further, because the Secretary has declared an 
extraordinary emergency because of END in those States, the regulations 
in Sec.  82.16 provide that the intrastate movement from those 
quarantined areas of birds, poultry, products, and materials that could 
spread END is prohibited or restricted.
    In this interim rule, we are reducing the size of the quarantined 
area in Texas and eliminating the quarantined area in New Mexico based 
on the results of extensive surveillance and investigations conducted 
in those States. These activities are described below.
    On April 9, 2003, END was confirmed in backyard poultry on a 
premises in the town of Socorro, El Paso County, TX. Therefore, in an 
interim rule effective April 10, 2003, and published in the Federal 
Register on April 16, 2003 (68 FR 18531-18532, Docket No. 02-117-5), we 
amended Sec.  82.3(c) by quarantining El Paso and Hudspeth Counties, 
TX, and Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero Counties, NM. As provided for by the 
regulations in Sec.  82.3(a), this quarantined area

[[Page 34780]]

encompassed the area where poultry infected with END were located and a 
surrounding geographical area deemed by epidemiological evaluation to 
be sufficient to contain all birds or poultry known to be infected with 
or exposed to END.
    Following the detection of END in Texas, intensive surveys were 
conducted in the five-county quarantined area. The original infected 
premises proved to be the only premises with END-infected birds. Three 
``dangerous contact'' premises (i.e., premises with an epidemiological 
link to the infected premises) were identified, along with 51 premises 
(42 containing poultry and 9 with only pet birds) located within a 1 
kilometer radius of the infected premises. All birds and poultry on 
those 54 premises were tested for END with negative results. Across the 
five-county quarantined area, additional surveys were conducted in 
targeted high-risk areas. Populated areas, reports from animal control 
units, and leads derived from reports of sick birds or poultry or other 
epidemiological information were used to define the high-risk areas. No 
additional cases were identified in any of these areas. Passive 
surveillance, including education and outreach efforts, continues to be 
conducted throughout the States. A total of 1,591 investigations were 
conducted in New Mexico and Texas, with 839 flocks tested. No evidence 
of additional disease spread was identified through this surveillance. 
There is a single commercial premises in the quarantined area, located 
in Berino, Dona Ana County, NM. Swabs were submitted on a weekly basis 
from this facility, all with negative results. A review of biosecurity 
procedures and other records was also conducted on a weekly basis. All 
test results reported through May 12, 2003, have been negative.

Reduction of Quarantined Areas

    As noted previously, the regulations in Sec.  82.3(a) provide that 
any area where birds or poultry infected with END are located will be 
designated as a quarantined area, and that a quarantined area is any 
geographical area, which may be a premises or all or part of a State, 
deemed by epidemiological evaluation to be sufficient to contain all 
birds or poultry known to be infected with or exposed to END.
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service epidemiologists have 
evaluated the results of the investigations conducted in New Mexico and 
Texas and have determined that we may now reduce the size of the 
quarantined area in Texas and that it is no longer necessary to 
maintain quarantined areas in New Mexico. This determination is based 
on, among other things, the demonstrated absence of birds or poultry 
infected with or exposed to END in specific areas. The regulations in 
Sec.  82.14 provide requirements that must be met before an area may be 
removed from quarantine, but those requirements relate to measures 
taken with respect to END-infected or -exposed birds and poultry, their 
eggs and manure, and articles and premises with which such birds or 
their manure or litter have come in contact. As there were no END-
infected or -exposed birds or poultry in the areas that we are removing 
from quarantine, there are no requirements under Sec.  82.14 that need 
to be met before those areas can be removed from quarantine.
    Therefore, in this interim rule, we are amending Sec.  82.3(c) by 
removing Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero Counties, NM, Hudspeth County, TX, 
and portions of El Paso County, TX, from the list of quarantined areas 
because the continued quarantine of these areas is no longer necessary 
to contain all birds and poultry infected with or exposed to END. That 
portion of El Paso County, TX, that will remain as a quarantined area, 
which is described in the amendments to Sec.  82.3(c) at the end of 
this document, has been deemed by epidemiological evaluation to be 
sufficient to contain all birds or poultry known to be infected with or 
exposed to END.

Immediate Action

    Immediate action is warranted to relieve restrictions that are no 
longer necessary. We have determined that Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero 
Counties, NM, Hudspeth County, TX, and portions of El Paso County, TX, 
may now be removed from the list of areas quarantined because of END. 
Therefore, immediate action is warranted to relieve the prohibitions or 
restrictions that have applied to the movement of birds, poultry, 
products, and other materials from those areas. Under these 
circumstances, the Administrator has determined that prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment are contrary to the public interest and 
that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553 for making this action 
effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
    We will consider comments that we receive during the comment period 
for this interim rule (see DATES above). After the comment period 
closes, we will publish another document in the Federal Register. The 
document will include a discussion of any comments we receive and any 
amendments we are making to the rule.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. For this 
action, the Office of Management and Budget has waived its review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    This rule amends the regulations by removing Dona Ana, Luna, and 
Otero Counties, NM, Hudspeth County, TX, and portions of El Paso 
County, TX, from the list of quarantined areas. This action needs to be 
made effective immediately in order to remove restrictions on the 
movement of birds, poultry, and certain other articles from those areas 
that are no longer necessary.
    This situation makes timely compliance with section 604 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) impracticable. We are 
currently assessing the potential economic effects of this action on 
small entities. Based on that assessment, we will either certify that 
the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities or publish a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis.

Executive Order 12372

    This program/activity is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance under No. 10.025 and is subject to Executive Order 12372, 
which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local 
officials. (See 7 CFR part 3015, subpart V.)

Executive Order 12988

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws and 
regulations that are in conflict with this rule; (2) has no retroactive 
effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This interim rule contains no information collection or 
recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

List of Subjects in 9 CFR Part 82

    Animal diseases, Poultry and poultry products, Quarantine, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.


0
Accordingly, 9 CFR part 82 is amended as follows:

[[Page 34781]]

PART 82--EXOTIC NEWCASTLE DISEASE (END) AND CHLAMYDIOSIS; POULTRY 
DISEASE CAUSED BY SALMONELLA ENTERITIDIS SEROTYPE ENTERITIDIS

0
1. The authority citation for part 82 continues to read as follows:


    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 8301-8317; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.

0
2. In Sec.  82.3, paragraph (c), the entry for New Mexico is removed 
and the entry for Texas is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  82.3  Quarantined areas.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
* * * * *

Texas

    El Paso County. That portion of the county in the Town of Socorro 
that is bounded as follows: Beginning at the intersection of Muscat 
Street and Tokay Avenue; then northeast on Tokay Avenue to Fredonia 
Street; then southeast on Fredonia Street to Vineyard Road; then 
southwest on Vineyard Road to Muscat Street; then northwest on Muscat 
Street to the point of beginning.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 5th day of June 2003.
Peter Fernandez,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 03-14723 Filed 6-10-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P