Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124
02/06/2006 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HB 380-ANIMALS & ANIMAL OR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS CO-CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 380, "An Act relating to the powers and duties of the commissioner of environmental conservation; relating to animals, animal products, agricultural products, and the transportation of animals and animal products; relating to the employment, appointment, and duties of a state veterinarian by the commissioner of environmental conservation; relating to the powers of the commissioner of natural resources regarding agricultural products; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HB 380, said the statutory duties and powers of Alaska's state veterinarian have not been changed since 1949. The statute refers to fur farms and other anachronisms and gives no authority to quarantine an animal unless it is considered livestock, which limits options during a potential avian influenza outbreak, for example. Current statute makes it unclear who would be in charge during such an outbreak, he noted. He said various agencies jointly came up with suggestions that are written into HB 380. 1:34:43 PM MIKE PAWLOWSKI, Staff to Representative Kevin Meyer, said there is an amendment suggested by the Department of Health and Social Services. CO-CHAIR SAMUELS moved Amendment 1 as follows (original punctuation provided): Insert a new section: *Sec.__. AS47.05.012(9) is amended to read: (9) the compendium of animal rabies prevention and control [2002,] published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Hearing no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if the state veterinarian has the power to enter private property. DR. BOB GERLACH, State Veterinarian, Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, said only with respect to a specific species in statute. He noted an instance of prairie dogs spreading monkey pox in the Midwest, and the state veterinarians did not have the ability to go onto private land, so they quarantined the area. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he is concerned about rapid global movements of animals, and there may be unknown vectors creating an emergency situation. "Would this bill allow you to seize upon a situation that comes before us that seems a crisis, and allow you to act very quickly," gaining access to private property in the interest of public health? 1:39:51 PM DR. GERLACH said HB 380 "would allow the state veterinarian to take action and control a disease outbreak that was initiated by a species, a novel species, or any animal." MR. PAWLOWSKI said to look at Section 3 regarding the ability to inspect premises. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said, "I would like to know that somebody in the state doesn't need to have the troopers come with them" in the case of non-cooperating property owners. DR. GERLACH said the bill would give the power to quarantine an animal to a premise and then decide if extermination is called for. 1:41:59 PM DR. GERLACH provided the following testimony (original punctuation provided): The current rapid pace of disease emergence at the st beginning of the 21 century has created new challenges for the management and control of animal and public health diseases. The emergence of new diseases has been primarily associated with an increased interaction with animals. It is now recognized that over 70% of the newly identified infectious disease affecting human health and human economies are zoonotic diseases (animal diseases that infect people). In the past the infectious diseases categorized according to a convenient but artificial system: diseases of livestock, diseases of wildlife, diseases of pets, diseases of humans. Infectious diseases are rarely restricted to an individual species and are not contained by any artificial geographic or political boundary. Diseases can be introduced to a new area through a number of routes. For examples let us look at the recent outbreaks of some highly publicized emerging disease and how they were spread. import and export of animals (Monkey Pox- rodents from Africa) transportation of animal products (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Mad Cow Disease- meat and bone meal, animal feeds) movement of food products (E. coli O-157- ground meat, Salmonella-meats and vegetables, Listeria-cheese products) animal movement/migration (Avain Influenza-waterfowl, Chronic Wasting Disease-white tailed deer) insect vectors (West Nile Virus- mosquitoes, Lyme Disease-ticks). There are also threats to public health from diseases that have been recognized for many years and were thought to be under control. These disease agents have re-emerged recently to cause new problems due to the presence in a new population or group of animals. For example; outbreaks of two zoonotic diseases, tuberculosis and brucellosis, in wildlife and livestock have resulted in Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, California, Arizona, and Utah loosing their status as disease free states. Other disease have re- emerged as a threat due to genetic mutations that make the pathogen more resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Antibiotic resistant strains of E. coli O-157, Salmonella and tuberculosis have been identified resulting in increased morbidity and mortality rates and escalating health care cost. The consequences of all these disease outbreaks has had major impact on both animal health, public health, as well as regional and national economies. There is no state agency that has the authority to manage animals (domestic, wild or exotic) that may carry diseases that threaten the State's animal resources and public health. The current authority of the State Veterinarian is limited to livestock, poultry and animals on fur farms. How has the state managed this problem? In the February of 2004 a veterinarian reported that several horses had acutely died in Kodiak. The disease investigation was initiated by the State Veterinarian in collaboration with the USDA, UAF and local practitioners. Public Health was notified. No person had the authority to stop all animal movement (pets, livestock, wildlife, animals for exhibition) to prevent the possible spread of a potentially dangerous disease during this investigation. The State Veterinarian had the authority to quarantine livestock and poultry only. All animal movement on and off Kodiak was curtailed through the voluntary cooperation of DOD-US Coast Guard, State Dept of Transportation- Ferry System, private airline carriers with the Office of the State Veterinarian. Five horses and a donkey died in the span of two weeks; fortunately the cause of the equine deaths was not an infectious disease. In the summer of 2005 a dog kennel owner imported some ducks into Alaska to train hunting dogs. He reported that 200 of 500 of the ducks had died over the course of 2 weeks. These ducks are not considered poultry. There was a high level of concern due to the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Southeast Asia. The disease investigation was coordinated by the State Veterinarian in collaboration with the USDA. The owner agreed to the disease control measures that were instituted during the investigation: quarantine, cancellation of all dog trials scheduled, sampling of the remaining flock of ducks. The condition was treated with an antibiotic and the deaths ceased. The disease was not the result of Avian Influenza or any other foreign animal disease but caused by a common bacterial disease. In the past disease investigations have been successfully managed and controlled with the voluntary cooperation of all parties involved. The state cannot depend on this in the future, there needs to be clear statuary authority in situations of an animal disease outbreak. 1:52:53 PM CO-CHAIR RAMRAS said he would like to address the lack of veterinarian programs in Alaska's university system. 1:54:11 PM REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said the use of imported seed has caused a potato blight in Alaska. He asked about airlines being able to transport exotic pets. DR. GERLACH said the state needs to be able to control and track animal imports or anything that would be a vector to a disease that may threaten Alaska's resources. The postal service ships live poultry, and it is unregulated, he noted. 1:57:44 PM LOUISA CASTRODALE, Epidemiologist, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Social Services, said the director of the Division of Public Health supports HB 380 and Amendment 1. She explained that Amendment 1 removes the specific year from statute in reference to the compendium of animal rabies prevention and control, so the compendium can be referred to as it comes out each year, "so it's the most up-to-date." 1:59:27 PM LARRY DEVILBISS, Director, Division of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, spoke to Representative Gatto's question about potato and tomato blight and said the strains have been narrowed down, and the vector was likely imported tomato plants. He said he supports the legislation. 2:01:18 PM REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked about importation of tomatoes. MR. DEVILBISS said the major importers have been notified that plants must be certified or they will not be able to sell them. 2:02:23 PM CO-CHAIR SAMUELS moved to report HB 380 as amended out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. Hearing no objections, CSHB 380(RES) passed out of the House Resources Standing Committee.