Dr. Dee Ellis, Texas Animal Health Commission Executive Director and State Veterinarian, has announced the agency is accepting public comments on the amendment of three rules proposed during the commission’s January meeting in Austin.

The proposals are to amend Chapter 40, entitled "Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)," Chapter 41, entitled "Fever Ticks," and Chapter 55, entitled "Swine."

Proposed changes to Chronic Wasting Disease Rule

The proposed amendment to the rule addressing Chronic Wasting Disease involves changing movement requirements for species susceptible to the disease. The commission is also proposing to repeal existing Section 40.5 concerning testing requirements for Elk.

The new section is for the purpose of revising the current surveillance requirements for the state’s intrastate movement of elk to include exotic livestock, which are susceptible to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The commission recently addressed a number of different regulations and agency actions in response to recent developments involving CWD. The commission also adopted changes to the commission’s CWD voluntary program in response to the changes in the federal CWD program. In addition, the commission recently authorized the executive director to designate areas of the state as being at a high risk for CWD based on disclosure of any positive animals. This measure represents an effort to protect these animal resources within the state.

Additional proposed changes include modifying the current CWD program to include red deer and Sika deer and their hybrids because of recent actions which have classified them as being a susceptible species for CWD. The purpose of the program was to establish testing surveillance for elk and now includes these added species. Based on the inclusion of red deer and Sika deer and other members of the cervid family as susceptible species, the commission is proposing this new section to be applicable to all cervid species known to be susceptible to CWD, excluding all mule deer, white-tailed deer, and native species under the jurisdiction of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

Proposed changes to Fever Ticks Rule

The proposed amendment to Chapter 41 "Fever Ticks" is for Section 41.9, “Vacation and Inspection of a Premise." This amendment will add a requirement that all cattle in the Permanent Quarantine Zone be identified with permanent official identification and be presented annually for inspection.

The Texas Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (program) is undergoing some changes in order to make it more effective in the efforts to eradicate the Texas Cattle Fever Ticks. The program in the last year has implemented the use of individual herd plans. An individual herd plan is a written disease management plan that is developed with the herd or land owner(s) and/or their representative(s), and a State or Federal Designated Fever Tick Epidemiologist to eradicate fever ticks or potential exposure to fever ticks from an affected herd or property.

The herd plan will include appropriate treatment frequencies, treatments to be employed, and any additional disease management or herd management practices deemed necessary to eradicate fever ticks from the herd in an efficient and effective manner.

Proposed changes to Swine Pseudorabies Rule

The proposed amendment to Chapter 55 "Swine" is for Section 55.5, "Pseudorabies." This amendment is to update the testing timeframe for releasing swine that have been quarantined for exposure to Pseudorabies. This is in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services' National Pseudorabies Eradication Program. The current rule requires swine to have two consecutive negative herd tests not less than 60 days from the removal of the last reactor. The changes proposed to Section 55.5 will now allow swine to be released from quarantine with one negative herd test not less than 30 days from removal of the last reactor.

Public comments deadline is March 4

All regulations enacted by the commission are acted on at its public meetings held quarterly. The rulemaking process entails two public actions with a proposal stage and an adoption stage. After the Commission authorizes the rule proposal, it is published in the Texas Register for a minimum of 30 days for comments specifically pertaining to the rule proposal.

Comments on the proposed regulations must be submitted in writing to Carol Pivonka, Texas Animal Health Commission, 2105 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas, 78758, by fax at (512) 719-0721, or by e-mail to comments@tahc.texas.gov. The deadline for comment submissions is Monday, March 4, 2013, at 5:00 p.m.