WASHINGTON – An interim rule prohibiting importing birds and poultry products from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) exists was issued Jan. 24 by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS’ previous restrictions covered only the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza. The changes are necessary to prevent the introduction of HPAI into the US.

Restrictions for live poultry and birds that have been vaccinated for any H5 or H7 subtype of HPAI or that have moved through regions where any HPAI subtype exists are also being added by APHIS.

The interim rule states live birds or poultry that have been vaccinated for any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza are prohibited entry into the US. These restrictions also apply to hatching eggs laid by birds or poultry vaccinated for the H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.

Non-vaccinated birds, poultry and their hatching eggs imported into the US must be accompanied by a certificate stating that the birds have not been vaccinated for any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza. These changes are necessary because vaccinated poultry and birds may produce false positive test results when tested for HPAI during the required 30-day quarantine after importation into the US.

APHIS is also prohibiting importing live birds, poultry and hatching eggs that travel through areas where any HPAI subtype is known to exist. Live birds and poultry are at risk because they cannot be kept in completely sealed containers and protected from contamination.

In connection with the changes related to HPAI, APHIS is establishing a list of regions where any HPAI subtype may exist. The list will be maintained on theAPHIS National Center for Import and Export websiteat rather than maintained in the Code of Federal Regulations. The online posting will allow updates to be made quickly and easily.

APHIS is making these changes, among others, to protect the United States from the introduction of HPAI. This interim rule is published in the Jan. 24 Federal Register and became effective upon publication.