USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reopening through July 12 the comment period on a January 2012 interim rule that prohibits or restricts importing of birds and poultry products from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza is considered to exist.  The interim rule also imposed restrictions on imports of live poultry and birds that have been vaccinated for any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza (including hatching eggs) or that have moved through regions where any subtype of HPAI is considered to exist.

APHIS states that, since the publication of the interim rule, it has become aware of several peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that pigeons and other Columbiform species such as doves have a very low risk of being infected by HPAI viruses and would, therefore, contribute little to the risk of transmission and spread of such viruses. APHIS is therefore considering revising its regulation to allow the importation of such birds that have originated in or transited regions considered to have HPAI. Such birds and other poultry from regions considered to have exotic Newcastle disease would remain prohibited.  The Federal Register notice can be viewed here.