NR02-19 September 26, 2002
Hawaii Board of Agriculture Approves Emergency Rules on Importation of Birds to Hawaii Due to Threat of Introduction of the West Nile Virus
Hilo – The Hawaii Board of Agriculture (HBOA) today approved emergency rules that increases requirements for the importation of birds to Hawaii from North America. Although the virus has not been detected in Hawaii, the board took the action, finding that the West Nile Virus (WNV) posed an imminent threat to public health and livestock and that the measures are prudent to prevent the introduction and establishment of the West Nile Virus through imported birds.
The emergency rules authorize the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to impose stricter import requirements for all birds and poultry, including hatching eggs, day-old chicks and chickens older then four weeks. The new rules require that:
– all birds and poultry must be accompanied by a valid “WNV Emergency Rule Import Permit” issued in advance by Hawaii’s State Veterinarian; and
– all birds and poultry must enter the state through Honolulu International Airport and be presented for inspection at the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility.
In addition, the imported birds must comply with the following pre-shipment requirements. However, hatching eggs, day-old chicks and chickens older than four weeks of age are exempt from these pre-shipment requirements.
– All birds or poultry must be isolated in a mosquito-free, mosquito-proof enclosure under the supervision of an accredited veterinarian for a minimum period of seven days (168 hours) and enter the state within 36 hours of completion of the seven-day quarantine; or
– If the bird is from a state that has not identified WNV in birds or mosquitoes within its borders, the bird or poultry must be certified by an accredited veterinarian issuing the required health certificate as having resided at least seven days in the WNV-free state; or
– If the bird is from a state that has not identified WNV in birds or mosquitoes within its borders, the bird or poultry must be isolated from other birds or mosquitoes under the supervision of an accredited veterinarian for a minimum of seven days and must enter Hawaii within 72 hours of completion of the seven-day isolation; or
– The bird or poultry must be tested for specific antibodies for WNV between 30 days and 180 days prior to entry. A negative antibody test will require the bird to complete the seven-day isolation procedure. A positive test will allow the bird to be shipped directly to Hawaii without the isolation requirement.
– Failure to meet any of the pre-shipment requirements will result in the bird or poultry to be refused entry to Hawaii. Birds that are refused entry must leave the state within 24 hours of their arrival or humanely euthanized.
The emergency rules will be forwarded for the Governor’s approval, filed with the Lt. Governor’s office, and must be printed within five days thereafter in a newspaper of general circulation statewide. The emergency rules will take effect upon filing with the Lt. Governor’s Office and will remain in effect for 120 days.
On September 19, 2002, HDOA imposed an immediate embargo on birds and poultry shipped through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Prior to the embargo, birds were being shipped to Hawaii through the USPS bypassing current inspection procedures. However, during this disease outbreak, HDOA and the USPS recognize the need to insure imported birds do not serve as a means for the establishment of WNV in Hawaii.
WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes and is primarily a wild-bird disease; but other birds, horses and humans may also become infected. Certain types of birds, when infected, can produce high enough virus levels for several days and serve as a source of infection when fed upon by mosquitoes. Although horses and humans do become infected and deaths can occur, they do not produce high enough virus levels and are not sources for the spread of the disease.
In August, the State Veterinarian James M. Foppoli issued an informational advisory asking horse owners to watch their horses for symptoms of West Nile infection which includes ataxia (weakness, stumbling, staggering, wobbly gait and incoordination), inability to stand, hind limb paralysis, coma or death. Most infected horses will not show clinical signs of the disease; however, some horses may suffer from equine meningitis and/or encephalitis which may be fatal.
West Nile virus has been identified in 42 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces with the pattern of advance consistent with the movement of wild birds. It has not been detected in Hawaii. Should the virus become established in Hawaii’s mosquito or bird populations, there is a high probability that the disease will become endemic, causing significant impacts on public health, the economy and the environment, including various species of endangered native birds.
For more information on the new bird importation rules, call HDOA at 973-9560.