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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 03-398



Temporary Order Designating West Nile Encephalitis a Dangerous Transmissible Disease

[33 Pa.B. 1249]

   The Department of Agriculture (Department) reissues its previous temporary order designating West Nile Encephalitis a ''dangerous transmissible disease,'' under authority of 3 Pa.C.S. § 2322(d) (relating to neoplastic diseases, metabolic diseases and heritable diseases). The original temporary order making this designation was published at 30 Pa.B. 1381 (March 11, 2000). This temporary order was reissued and published at 31 Pa.B. 1381 (March 10, 2001). The designation has facilitated the Department's efforts to detect and contain West Nile Encephalitis and to assist the Department of Health and other public health agencies in monitoring and treatment efforts.

   West Nile Encephalitis is a disease of public health significance. It also poses a threat to domestic animal health and to the economic well being of domestic animal industries--particularly the equine industry. Section 2322(c) of 3 Pa.C.S. requires the Department to proceed with the agreement of the Department of Health when it adds a disease of public health significance to the list of designated dangerous transmissible diseases. Both the Department and the Department of Health agreed upon adding West Nile Encephalitis to the list of dangerous transmissible diseases and to the reissuance of this temporary order.

   West Nile Encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by the West Nile Virus. Although West Nile Virus has, in the past, been found most typically in Africa, Eastern Europe and West Asia, it was detected in the New York City area and in parts of New Jersey in 1999. It has spread across the United States since then. In mild cases of human disease, infection can cause fever, headache and body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. In more severe cases, it can cause headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, paralysis and occasional convulsions. In animals, horses and birds appear to be most susceptible to illness following infection, although reports of illness in other species are increasing.

   Humans and animals can acquire West Nile Virus through a bite from a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird. The Department has authority under the Domestic Animal Law (3 Pa.C.S. §§ 2301--2389) to regularly monitor the domestic animal population of this Commonwealth to determine the prevalence, incidence and location of transmissible diseases. The designation of West Nile Encephalitis as a ''dangerous transmissible disease'' will facilitate this Department's surveillance of birds and other animals for the presence of the West Nile Virus or West Nile Encephalitis.

   This order is a temporary order, as required under 3 Pa.C.S. § 2322(d). This order shall take effect as of February 22, 2003, and shall remain in effect until no later than February 22, 2004. The Department may: (1) reissue this temporary order to extend the designation beyond February 22, 2004; (2) allow this temporary order to expire February 22, 2004; (3) supplant this temporary order with a formal regulation designating West Nile Encephalitis a ''dangerous transmissible disease''; or (4) modify this temporary order.

   Questions regarding this temporary order may be directed to John Enck, DVM, Director, Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408, (717) 783-6677.

Acting Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-398. Filed for public inspection March 7, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]

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