USDA Seeks Comments On Proposed EVA Rules

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is soliciting public comment to help develop options for an equine viral arteritis regulatory program for horses within the United States.

"After evaluating public comment, we will determine whether to propose changes to our regulations," said Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a part of USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area. "While EVA is not widespread throughout the United States, the equine industry regards the disease as a potentially significant and increasing economic threat," said Torres.

At this time, APHIS does not have a program to control EVA because confirmed outbreaks are sporadic. However, the U.S. equine industry has requested that APHIS initiate surveillance, control, and possibly eradication of EVA.

Equine viral arteritis is an acute, contagious, viral disease characterized by edema, conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, and abortion. Infection is primarily spread through aerosol transmission among horses that are closely congregated in places such as racetracks, shows, and sales. EVA is also spread venereally by infected stallions or infected semen.

EVA can pose a number of problems for horse owners, horse breeders, and the equine-performance industry. Horses that have EVA antibodies, which can be present due to vaccination against the disease or infection with EVA virus, can be barred from entering foreign countries for racing or competitionpurposes. In addition, semen collected from infected stallions can be barred from entering foreign countries.

The most damaging aspect of EVA is that the disease can cause abortion in pregnant mares. Abortion rates due to EVA can be as high as 70 percent.

This action is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 20 Federal Register. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Nov. 20.

Please send an original and three copies to Docket No. 99-074-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238.

Comments may be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to review comments are requested to call ahead on (202) 690-2817 to facilitate entry into the comment reading room.

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