HPAI in Mexico

For those of you involved or interested in bird business(es), I’m passing along notification we’ve received from USDA APHIS VS of confirmation of avian influenza in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

On June 25, 2012 the Mexican Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) contacted APHIS to confirm the detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H7N3 virus in three large commercial operations in the Mexican State of Jalisco.   The state of Jalisco does not export poultry to the United States.

VS will take the following actions, which are standard when HPAI is detected in a country that was considered free:

    • Initially, VS will consider the entire country affected with HPAI.
    • Once VS is able to evaluate the epidemiology information provided to us from Mexico, we may be able to narrow the nationwide ban, likely to a single state.  After regionalizing to the state level, we may be able to regionalize further, to the county level.  This will depend on an assessment of the risk and the effectiveness of movement restrictions from the affected area.
    • U.S. port personnel will be notified through a port alert.
    • APHIS will be in close contact with Mexican government officials to gather epidemiological information regarding the progress of the disease control operations in the State of Jalisco.

We do not anticipate that the detection will have an extensive impact on trade. Only two establishments in Mexico export fresh poultry meat to the United States.  Based on our regulations, these establishments only receive U.S. origin poultry for further processing (cut up, deboned, packaged), which is then exported back to the U.S. This trade will not be affected by the HPAI detection.  Except for returning US-origin pet birds, live birds are not allowed from HPAI-affected countries. Over the past year, ten returning pets of U.S.-origin were imported from Mexico, along with one shipment of 40 birds for commercial sale.  No live poultry or eggs for hatching were legally imported from Mexico during that timeframe.

As more information becomes available, we will continue to provide updates on the situation.

Latest NM VSV Update

Folks it’s looking like the situation’s getting worse instead of better. I received notice this evening that the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus outbreak in NM is still spreading. The message from the NM State Vet’s Office today states they now have 11 premises under quarantine. I’ve excerpted the counties:

Currently eleven premises are under quarantine. The counties of Otero, Valencia, Socorro  and  San Miguel  have positive confirmed  cases.  The counties of Dona Ana and Roosevelt have had suspect cases. The counties of Bernalillo and Santa Fe are considered high risk for cases of VS.

Please be careful out there!

Bone Remodeling

Anyone want to talk a little physiology? I’m guessing that got a big “NO!” But bear with me a minute though please.

Osteoclasts. Osteoblasts. Microfractures. Stress. Dynamic forces & Re-modeling.

Any folks into horse training or weight lifting? or any other exercise that stresses the skeletal system? The reason I bring this up is because stressing the system just enough to cause microfractures causes bone to remodel, becoming denser, stronger, able to endure greater forces. That’s how we (and animals) develop the ability to run faster (among other physical feats). It’s not all about the muscles. Remember that they have to attach to the bones.

Osteoclasts are the special cells that chew up bone and spit out calcium and phosphorus. Osteoblasts are the special cells that take calcium, phosphorus and a few other items and turn it into bone. If you’ve ever seen a radiograph of a horse limb and noticed how parts of it resemble the flying buttresses of some cathedrals, it’s because the osteoclast/osteoblast dance is responding to dynamic forces by remodeling the bone to better endure the trauma.

Obviously there are a lot of other factors that affect the situation – nutrition, genetics,   duration, etc.

The real trick if you’re training is to make a few microfractures which causes the re-modeling/strengthening that you want without pushing too far and getting an actual fracture (and the catastrophic destruction that you don’t want.) That’s one of those points where science becomes art in my mind.

In addition to the dynamic I just described being the case with bones inside individuals, it’s also the case with organizations. To grow, to get stronger, faster, and better requires controlled stress, some microfractures, then time, energy and proper care so as to create a response that strengthens and results in a greater ability to excel.

Enjoy the ride.

What Else We Do

Lately I’ve been trying to give folks an idea of the various responsibilities the folks here in the SVO have.

This weekend a couple of our Livestock Officers and myself were involved in another activity that occasionally comes up – an Agency Assist.

Here’s a little background. ARS 3-1379 requires all government agencies (federal, state and local) to notify the ADA within 2 hours of any seizure of livestock or when someone’s taken into custody who is responsible for livestock. So in addition to that mandate on other government agencies, we also try to assist when and wherever we can. (Saying that handling livestock is a lost art, is probably not saying anything that most folks don’t already know.)

This weekend involved helping the Arizona Department of Gaming and the Attorney General’s Office with a raid on an illegal horse racing operation. You can read about the “Bad Bet” in their press release.

BTW black kevlar’s not exactly comfortable in the Sonoran Desert in June. But it sure can be comforting!

Enjoy the ride.

VSV Update

Just a quick update on the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus situation. Currently it’s still confined to NM. But they have found a couple of new premises (in the Peralto area) and those are now under quarantine.

A good site for staying abreast of the situation is USDA APHIS’ 2012 VSV Situation page. That embedded link will take you there.

What We Do – Continued

Carrying on from yesterday’s post describing our obligations under the law, I thought I’d share a few of the numbers I’ve gathered while trying to establish some metrics to use as managerial guideposts.

For this round I’ll address those folks who are Outstanding in Their Field 😉

  • 8 Certified Peace Officers aka Livestock Officers
  • 5 Livestock Inspectors. (1 person just retired; so make that 4.)
  • 13 pickup trucks (including 2 diesels)
    • folks are averaging about 2500 miles/month
    • trucks are averaging almost 150k total mileage
      • low mileage truck – 91+
      • high mileage truck – 206+ (not a diesel btw)
  • in 2011
    • Over 4600 Inspection Calls (remember this has a statutorily mandated 48-hour response obligation)
    • About 1250 Stray Calls (that’s where the trailers that get towed behind those trucks come into play – more on those later)
    • And almost 1800 Livestock Welfare Calls
  • And Not to Forget the Part-Time Staff
    • Deputy Livestock Inspectors – the number varies some with season; several work the livestock auction markets

And one more set of numbers to ponder: Average Wages

  • $16.24 – Livestock Officers
  • $14.19 – Livestock Inspectors
  • $10.52 – Deputy Livestock Inspectors

What We Do

On one hand I’m often astounded by how little folks know of the responsibilities that members of the State Vet’s Office shoulder. But then from another perspective I’m impressed that anyone knows, particularly beyond their slice of the pie and since so much of animal agriculture is out of sight and out of mind.

So I thought it might help if I shared some of what I presented last week to the AZ Veterinary Medical Association. Don’t worry. I’ll stick to the highlights of what the groups that comprise the SVO do and try to stay out of the details as much as possible. And I’ll be presenting them somewhat in order of priority.


Disease Control

ARS 3-1203. Definitions. ARS 3-1203. General Powers and Duties. ARS 3-1205. Control of Animal Diseases.

  • Foreign Animal Disease Prevention and Eradication (things like equine piroplasmosis, foot and mouth disease, or exotic newcastle disease)
  • Regulatory or Program Diseases (things we’ve been trying to eliminate over the years like Equine Infectious Anemia, Tuberculosis or Brucellosis)
    • note this obligation is to ensure public health by maintaining safe food supply
  • Diseases Requiring Mandatory Reporting to the State Vet’s Office (like equine viral encephalomyelitis or rabies)
    • note this obligation is often to ensure public health via using animals as sentinels for diseases of concern in humans
  • Other Public Concerns (like equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy – EHV and the show in Ogden, UT a couple of years back)
    • note this is not an enumerated obligation but a response to significant public concern

Animal Entry

This is elaborated in great detail in Arizona Administrative Code specifically Article 6 of Title 3, Animal Services Division Section. In general every animal entering the state must be accompanied by an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Many also are required to obtain a Prior Entry Permit #. These movements and documents are tracked by SVO personnel to facilitate disease mitigation/elimination responses.


To facilitate interstate and international animal movement, there is a joint federal-state program whereby veterinarians are authorized to essentially act as a representative of the government. That’s called accreditation. Your vet must be accredited to sign an OCVI (often and erroneously called a health certificate). The training and authorization programs are conducted jointly by SVO personnel & USDA APHIS VS personnel.

Government Operated Animal Pounds/Shelters

ARS 3-1213. Acquisition and Use of… Euthanasia Solution… ARS 11-1002. Powers and Duties…State Vet… ARS 11-1021. Proper care…impounded animals.

  • The state vet is obligated to develop methods to allow these agencies to obtain the drugs they require to operate (and by extension monitor their use as these are DEA Controlled Substances with high abuse potential)
  • The state vet is obligated to develop euthanasia procedures for these agencies to follow.
    • In the last few months we’ve managed to hammer these 2 items out.
  • The state vet is obligate to designate rabies vaccines, vaccination methods and frequency

Licensing and Inspections

  • biologicals including rabies vaccines
  • feedlot operations
  • aquaculture operations


Livestock Dominion/Inspection

ARS 3-1201(5.) “Livestock” means cattle, equine, sheep, goats and swine, except feral pigs.


  • Feedlots
  • Dairies
  • Range Cattle Intrastate
  • Non-Range Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Most Exhibitors

*every movement requires an inspection certificate, which generates tons of paper to be processed and receipts to be deposited and reconciled

Departmental Inspection

ARS 3-1332(D.) Upon being advised that livestock is subject to inspection, livestock officers and inspectors shall arrange for the inspection of the livestock and inspect such livestock within forty-eight hours.

  • Range Cattle Ownership Transfer
  • Range Cattle Out-of-state Shipment
  • Custom-Exempt Slaughter
  • Exhibition Swine
  • Auctions



ARS 3-1371.“Livestock officers shall seize livestock, except unweaned animals running with their mothers, wherever found and when the livestock officer questions the livestock’s ownership. The question of ownership may be raised in the following circumstances:” We must seize livestock on any of 8 points.

ARS 3-1401…Stray Laws

“Stray animal” as used in this article means livestock, bison or ratites whose owner is unknown or cannot be located, or any such animal whose owner is known but permits the animal to roam at large on the streets, alleys, roads, range or premises of another without permission, except that this section does not apply to livestock where the principles of a federal permit, federal allotment or federal lease are in dispute.


ARS 3-1721 – Equine in Poor Physical Condition

Any person … who believes that an equine is in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment may petition on affidavit a justice of the peace… for an order authorizing the department to take possession of and provide care for the equine for a fifteen-day period.

ARS 13-2910 – Animal Cruelty

any Law Enforcement Officer

STATUTORY OBLIGATIONS – Meat & Poultry Inspection

State Inspected Slaughter Establishments

must be “Equal To Or Better” than federal FSIS rules and procedures – 6 Facilities Licensed

Exempt Slaughter Establishments

47 Exempt Facilities (product is personal use, not for retail sale)