WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a federal order suspending shipments of all live swine, swine germplasm, swine products, and swine byproducts from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to the mainland United States as part of an African swine fever protection zone to prevent the animal disease from spreading into the two territories.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA announced plans on Aug. 26 to establish the protection zone following confirmed cases of ASF in the Dominican Republic. The federal order, which went into force on Sept. 16, is the final action in a series of safeguards needed to establish an ASF protection zone in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

“In the coming weeks, APHIS will detail the actions taken to create the protection zone in a dossier, which will be submitted to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health),” the agency said. “Once the dossier has been submitted to the OIE, APHIS will work to confirm that individual countries recognize and accept the zone(s). Their recognition will ensure the continued flow of US pork and live swine exports.”

APHIS said that when the protection zone is established, the agency will have processes in place in to:

    Prohibit movement of live swine and products out of the protection zone.

    Conduct appropriate surveillance within the protection zone to quickly detect introductions of disease.

    Conduct a public education campaign relating to biosecurity on farms and other establishments, prohibitions on movement of live swine and products outside the region, contacting authorities to report clinical cases, and similar actions.

APHIS confirmed ASF in samples collected from pigs in the Dominican Republic on July 28. The agency quickly moved to increase existing surveillance and mitigations within Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. ASF has not been detected in either US territory, however, APHIS is establishing the protection zone out of an abundance of caution to further safeguard the US swine herd and the US pork industry.