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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 09-42



Temporary Order Designating Dangerous Transmissible Diseases

[39 Pa.B. 239]
[Saturday, January 10, 2009]

   The Department of Agriculture (Department) hereby issues a temporary order designating West Nile Encephalitis (WNE), Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC), Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), Lymphocitic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) and the neurologic form of Equine Rhinopneumonitis or Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) as ''dangerous transmissible diseases.'' These designations are made under the authority of 3 Pa.C.S. §§ 2301--2389 (relating to the Domestic Animal Law).

   This temporary order is the successor to a previous temporary order with respect to these same diseases, as published at 37 Pa.B. 6297 (December 1, 2007) that made the same dangerous transmissible disease designations. This previous temporary order will expire as of January 1, 2009.

   Under 3 Pa.C.S. § 2327(a) (relating to disease surveillance and detection), the Department has authority to monitor the domestic animal population of this Commonwealth to determine the prevalence, incidence and location of transmissible diseases of animals. Under 3 Pa.C.S. § 2321(d) (relating to dangerous transmissible diseases), the Department has authority to declare a disease that has not been specifically identified in that statute as a ''dangerous transmissible disease'' to be a dangerous transmissible disease through issuance of a temporary order making that designation.

1.  WNE

   WNE is a disease of public health significance. It also poses a threat to domestic animal health and to the economic well being of domestic animal industries--particularly the equine industry. Section 2322(c) of 3 Pa.C.S. (relating to neoplastic diseases, metabolic diseases and heritable diseases) requires the Department to proceed with the agreement of the Department of Health (Health) when it adds a disease of public health significance to the list of designated dangerous transmissible diseases. Both the Department and Health agreed upon adding WNE to the list of dangerous transmissible diseases and to the reissuance of this temporary order.

   WNE is an infection of the brain caused by the West Nile virus. Although West Nile virus has, in the past, been found most typically in Africa, Eastern Europe and West Asia, it was detected in the New York City area and in parts of New Jersey in 1999. It has spread across the United States since then. In mild cases of human disease, infection can cause fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. In more severe cases, it can cause headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, paralysis and occasional convulsions. In animals, horses and birds appear to be most susceptible to illness following infection, although reports of illness in other species are increasing.

   Humans and animals can acquire West Nile virus through a bite from a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird. The designation of WNE as a ''dangerous transmissible disease'' will facilitate the Department's surveillance of birds, horses and other animals for the presence of the West Nile virus or WNE. The designation will also help the Department in providing assistance to Health and other public health agencies in monitoring and treatment efforts.

2.  CWD

   CWD is a disease of whitetail deer, elk and other cervids and is a member of the group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other more well-known TSEs are scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or ''mad cow'' disease. All are thought to be caused by a protein that has converted to an abnormal infectious form known as a ''prion.'' There is some evidence, in the case of BSE, that humans may become infected through consumption of meat products containing central nervous system tissues, thus there is a significant public health interest concerning all TSEs.

   A number of states have, in recent years, instituted import regulations requiring that cervids entering those states: (1) originate from herds that are participating in a surveillance program; and (2) originate from states that have authority to take action in the event that CWD is diagnosed. The designation of CWD as a ''dangerous transmissible disease'' will facilitate the development and oversight of a surveillance program and will help the Department react and take action in the event CWD is detected.

3.  SVC

   SVC is caused by a ribonucleic acid virus known as Rhabdovirus carpio and is considered an emerging disease in the United States. SVC poses a threat to both domestic fish health and wild fish health in this Commonwealth and has the potential to create a significant adverse economic impact on this Commonwealth's aquaculture industry.

   The SVC virus readily infects species of the Cyprinidae family (carp and minnows) and spreads through direct contact with infected fish and through shared infected water sources. Symptoms typically appear in the spring time as water temperatures increase. Symptoms in infected fish range from undetectable through mild disease to sudden massive die-off.

   There is no specific treatment for fish infected with SVC and no vaccine to prevent the disease. Once natural water resources become infected, SVC may be impossible to eradicate and may pose a permanent threat to aquaculture facilities utilizing those water sources.

4.  VHS

   Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) virus is a serious pathogen of fresh and saltwater fish that is causing an emerging disease in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. VHS virus is a rhabdovirus (rod shaped virus) that affects fish of all size and age ranges. It does not pose any threat to human health. VHS can cause hemorrhaging of fish tissue, including internal organs, and can cause the death of infected fish. Once a fish is infected with VHS, there is no known cure. Not all infected fish develop the disease, but they can carry and spread the disease to other fish. The World Organization of Animal Health has categorized VHS as a transmissible disease with the potential for profound socio-economic consequences.

5.  LCMV

   LCMV is known to cause potentially fatal disease in humans and is capable of being spread by various rodent species. From time to time, outbreaks have occurred in the United States--necessitating swift investigation and disease containment strategies to protect human health.

6.  Neurologic Form of EHV-1

   EHV-1 is a highly contagious virus that is ubiquitous in horse populations worldwide. The age, seasonal and geographic distributions vary and are likely determined by immune status and concentration of horses. Infection with EHV-1 most commonly causes respiratory illness, characterized by fever, rhinopharyngitis and tracheo-bronchitis. Infection may also cause abortions in pregnant mares, following clinical or subclinical infection, and can be fatal to newborn foals. A further, infrequent clinical resultant effect of EHV-1 infection is the development of neurologic disease. Depending upon the location and extent of the lesions, signs of neurologic disease may vary from mild in coordination and posterior paresis to severe posterior paralysis with recumbency, loss of bladder and tail function, and loss of sensation to the skin in the perineal and inguinal areas, and even the hindlimbs. In exceptional cases, the paralysis may be progressive and culminate in quadriplegia and death.

   Transmission of EHV-1 occurs by direct or indirect contact with infective nasal discharges, aborted fetuses, placentas or placental fluids. Transmission can occur by means of coughing or sneezing over a distance of up to 35 feet, as well as by direct contact with infected horses, feed and equipment.

   There is currently no known method to reliably prevent the neurologic form of EHV-1 infection. Sound management practices, including isolation, are important to reduce the risk of infection with EHV-1. Maintaining appropriate vaccination protocols may also be prudent in an attempt to reduce the incidence of the respiratory form of EHV-1 infection, which may reduce the incidence of the neurologic form.


   The Department hereby designates WNE, CWD, SVC, VHS, LCMV and EHV-1 ''dangerous transmissible diseases'' under 3 Pa.C.S. § 2321(d). This order supplants any previous temporary order making a designation.

   This order shall take effect as of January 1, 2009, and shall remain in effect until no later than January 1, 2010. This Department may: (1) reissue this temporary order to extend the designation beyond January 1, 2010; (2) allow this temporary order to expire on January 1, 2010; (3) supplant this temporary order with a formal regulation; or (4) modify this temporary order.

   Questions regarding this temporary order may be directed to Craig Shultz, DVM, Director, Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408, (717) 772-2852.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 09-42. Filed for public inspection Janaury 9, 2009, 9:00 a.m.]

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