The USDA announced its intention to designate Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a “protection zone.” That’s a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) designation that allows the U.S. to maintain its current animal health status should there be the detection of African Swine Fever or other foreign animal diseases on the island territories.
The USDA will work to gain OIE acceptance of this designation to maintain U.S. pork export continuity should Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands have an animal test positive for African Swine Fever in the future. The United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, remain free of ASF, a swine-only disease with no implications for human health.
There is no commercial pork trade from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland. “We thank Secretary Vilsack for taking this pre-emptive step to preserve the continuity of U.S. pork exports as we continue to work together to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever to the United States,” says Jen Sorenson, President of the National Pork Producers Council. The USDA, Customs and Border Protection, NPPC, and others are working together to contain the first outbreak of ASF in the Western Hemisphere in about 40 years to the Dominican Republic.