Traveling can be stressful, there’s no question about it. And now with heightened security protocols due to increased foreign animal disease pressure, it’s more important than ever to know your role. Headlines of travelers being deported from Australia have brought more attention to the efforts the global pork industry is making to keep African swine fever (ASF) from spreading further.
At present, ASF has never been reported in the U.S., Canada, Australia or New Zealand. One of the most important things you can do to help protect the U.S. pork industry is to be a good traveler. But, what does that mean for you? Here are five tips to protect the pork industry and minimize your travel stress.
1. Decrease risk of fomites.
Select clothing and shoes that you only use for international travel. If you will be on a farm or have contact with animals, markets or raw meat products, buy cheap shoes and clothing that you can leave in the country before returning to the U.S. When you return to the U.S., wash any clothing items you took overseas immediately in hot water and dry with hot air to kill any pathogens that may be present. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down your luggage and any objects that were with you overseas. After items have dried, wipe them down a second time and let them dry.
2. Don’t bring any pork or pork products back with you.
This may seem obvious, but don’t carry back any food or other pork products – even dried pork or pork sticks.
3. Declare it.
After visiting a farm or traveling in a country that’s positive for ASF or any other foreign animal disease, declare this information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) via written form, airport kiosk or verbally. Then you should be diverted for an ag secondary screening by a CBP ag specialist. If this doesn’t happen, demand that it does.
4. Contact SHIC if you aren’t diverted for secondary screening.
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, Paul Sundberg, DVM, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), 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
-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
To help the industry safeguard the health of the U.S. swine herd, the Swine Health Information Center, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and American Association of Swine Veterinarians are asking travelers to report their experience if they are not diverted for secondary screening with return to the U.S. following overseas travel.
5. Plan for downtime.
The National Pork Board recommends a minimum of 5 nights of downtime after international travel before returning to a farm in the U.S. However, make sure you know each operation’s protocol. Many groups are including a safety factor of additional nights off-farm upon return to the U.S.
ASF is a disease of swine and is not a food safety or public health risk. To learn more about ASF, visit porkbusiness.com/ASF.
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