255485 Reducing Zoonoses: Controlling Animal Importation through Federal-Local Collaboration

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM , Veterinary Public Health and Rabies Control;, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Robert Kim-Farley, MD, MPH , Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Los Angeles, CA
Objectives: Current animal importation procedures and importer compliance were evaluated to help quantify the magnitude of importation problems and to help identify possible interventions.

Methods: A federal-local collaborative, including various agencies overseeing animal importation at LAX, was developed to share procedures, and identify weaknesses and potential solutions. Three separate multi-agency animal importation surveys were conducted at LAX. 6503 imported animals and their paperwork were examined to verify the animal's health, age and species. Data regarding the shipper, airline, importer, shipment size, origin and final destination were collected. Problem shipments were traced to their final destination to verify compliance with import quarantines. Airlines and local importers were educated about proper animal importation procedures after the first survey. Survey data was examined to determine the impact of these education and enforcement efforts.

Results: The surveys identified problems with shipments of 4 or more dogs. These animals were frequently younger than what was stated on their health certificates, making their required rabies vaccinations invalid. Educational efforts did not have an impact on the proportion of falsified health certificates. However, procedures for joint inspections were established based on survey findings, and continued inspections and shipment follow up finally led to better importer compliance.

Conclusions: Frequent examination of imported animals is needed to ensure importer compliance. Complex animal importation problems can only be addressed and mitigated through strengthened federal regulations and extensive on-going collaboration among all local and federal agencies involved in the animal importation process.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. List five instances where imported animals posed a threat to public or animal health. 2. Describe current federal and local animal importation oversight roles. 3. Describe findings of the animal importation surveys at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 4. Identify potential weaknesses to current animal importation procedures. 5. Discuss how the LAX Animal Importation Collaborative may serve as a model for federal-local partnership to address this issue and safeguard both animals and the public.

Keywords: Animals and Public Health, Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Acting Director of the Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health Program and have overseen local animal disease control efforts for ten years. I became interested in animal importation procedures after noting an increase in sick/dead imported dogs and non-complaint importers. For the past three years, I have been a co-developer of the LAX Animal Importation Collaborative, overseen animal importation surveys, and helped develop new federal-local procedures to inspect animals imported through LAX.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.