Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:55 AM IST163
By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – A new Alaskan law increases the state’s power to test and quarantine animals suspected of carrying contagious diseases, a precaution that officials say will be necessary in the case of a deadly strain of bird flu.

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski signed the bill on Tuesday that expands animal-control rules largely unchanged since 1949.

The new law widens the state’s authority during a public health risk to test all animals for all diseases.

The old law limited testing to livestock, commercial poultry and animals raised on the fur farms that once dotted Alaska’s islands and coastal areas, state officials said.

“We know today’s diseases cross the boundaries between wild animals, domesticated animals and people,” said Alaska State Veterinarian Bob Gerlach.”…