To increase transparency and accountability, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) released a protocol Wednesday for declaring farm visits in countries with African swine fever (ASF) to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
When returning to the United States after visiting a farm or being in contact with animals in a country (or countries) with ASF, or any other foreign animal disease, travelers should declare this information to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol via written form, airport kiosk or verbally. Then he or she should be diverted for an ag secondary screening by an ag specialist.
“Unfortunately, reports to pork industry organizations indicate the secondary screening is not taking place routinely as required,” says Paul Sundberg, SHIC executive director. “To help the industry understand the scope of this issue and safeguard the health of the U.S. swine herd, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and American Association of Swine Veterinarians are asking you to report your experience if you are not diverted for secondary screening with return to the U.S. following overseas travel.”
Sundberg will aggregate this information, which will then be shared on behalf of these organizations with Customs and Border Patrol to quantify this suspected lapse.
If travelers are not diverted for secondary screening after declaring they have been on a farm or in contact with animals in an ASF or other foreign animal disease positive nations, Sundberg asks the pork industry to assist with these efforts by emailing the following information to email@example.com:
- Your name (optional – please specify if you do NOT want your name shared)
- Country (or countries) visited
- Date and time of return
- Airline and flight number
- Arrival airport
- Declaration method (written form, kiosk or verbally)
- Customs and Border Patrol employee name, if possible (displayed on right side of shirt)
- Any other pertinent circumstances
ASF is endemic in Sardinia, most countries of subSaharan Africa and some West African countries. The spread of ASF through Russia, Belgium, the Caucasus, the Baltic states, Poland and China is raising concern in the U.S. pork industry. At present, ASF has never been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
This travel protocol affects not just ASF-affected countries but any with active foreign animal disease, Sundberg says.