New Electronic Certificates of Veterinary Inspection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health announced to industry stakeholders Oct. 22, 2003, that Veterinary Services (VS) is working with six states on an electronic Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) project. This would allow state and federal animal health officials to have real-time access to information regarding livestock movements in and out of their states using electronic health certificates logged by state, federal, and private practitioners, and thus allow immediate trace back and other reports relevant to disease control and surveillance. Steve Weber, DVM, MS, of VS, said, "The program includes horses as their movement falls under USDA oversight." 

The U.S. Animal Health Association recently made two resolutions supporting the development of an electronic health certificate system. Florida, the original beta-testing state in 1999, is now joined in the program by California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Tim O'Neill, VS program analyst said, "The main focus in this phase is to take the current paper version to an online process. Electronic ICVIs will be created online by APHIS federally accredited veterinarians. The information is immediately sent to all the appropriate animal health authorities with the same speed as any e-mail. In accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations, an original signed by the veterinarian will accompany the animals."

In the past, veterinarians have written paper heath certificates for the movement of livestock; the electronic certificates should allow state veterinarians to receive documentation much faster and more reliably. According to O'Neill, the scope of the project is to learn the best method to take the electronic ICVIs to all 50 states over the next several years. O'Neill went on to say the program envisions integration with a number of animal health databases that rely on the unique animal and premises identification numbers from the National Animal Identification Plan. 

There are several phases of this program. In phase one, the six states' implementation took place between August and October, 2003. Like any other new program, educating and training state staff and field veterinary medical officers have been key. States are now in various levels of training for private practitioners within their states to use the electronic health certificates. 

Equine practitioners in Florida have used the online method for the movement of horses since 1999, when approximately 40% of the state's total online reports included horses. AAEP members Dennis and Debra Kaye Van Roekel, DVMs, of Van Roekel & Van Roekel veterinary firm in Alva, Fla.,  said, "The state of Florida called to thank me for using this system because it has greatly helped reduce their work load. This cutting-edge technology allows us to present our clients with a clean, complete, and very professional health certificate, especially when we add digital images and the equine infectious Anemia test requirements all on one document."

Practitioners in any of the six states interested in participating in the ICVI project should contact Tim O'Neill at 970/494-7290 for system access.

About the Author

J. Amelita Facchiano

J. Amelita Facchiano has a passion for equine health, welfare, and identification. She chairs the U.S. Animal Health Association Animal Welfare Committee, and she serves on infectious diseases and ID committees for USAHA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and National Institute of Animal Agriculture. In addition, Facchiano chairs the Equine Species Working Group ID committee. She also wrote Horse Theft Prevention Handbook, available at www.exclusivelyequine.com.

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