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Reportable Diseases and Regulatory Concerns in Aquaculture

By

Roy P. E. Yanong

, VMD, University of Florida;


Ruth Francis-Floyd

, DVM, MS, DACZM, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida;


Barbara D. Petty

, DVM, North Florida Aquatic Veterinary Services

Last full review/revision Oct 2021 | Content last modified Nov 2021

With increased regulation of ornamental and aquacultured fish in the US, there are additional needs for professional veterinary services, including USDA health certification Health Certification With increased regulation of ornamental and aquacultured fish in the US, there are additional needs for professional veterinary services, including USDA health certification for movement of... read more for movement of animals. Implementation of the NAAHP should more clearly define the role of veterinary practitioners in the future. USDA APHIS provides voluntary training to practitioners who wish to work in this area and has developed aquatic animal training modules for accredited veterinarians. Information on federal regulations pertaining to fish medicine is available on the APHIS website.. State law may be more restrictive than federal law, and there is significant variation in state regulations regarding importation of aquatic animals. The State Veterinarian or State Animal Health Officer is the ultimate resource for information on state animal health regulations.

Currently, USDA APHIS has adopted the reportable disease list of the OIE as reportable in the US ( ). If a USDA APHIS reportable disease is suspected, appropriate samples should be collected as per the OIE Aquatic Manual. Practitioners should stay informed of changes in the status of diseases of regulatory concern, because they are liable for not reporting a case. Regulated fish diseases of greatest concern to aquatic animal veterinarians in the US include koi herpesvirus Koi Herpesvirus: Descriptions of viral diseases of fish are rapidly expanding. Viruses are being reported in new species, and interpretation of the significance of findings is also changing. Several viral diseases... read more , spring viremia of carp Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC) Descriptions of viral diseases of fish are rapidly expanding. Viruses are being reported in new species, and interpretation of the significance of findings is also changing. Several viral diseases... read more , and viral hemorrhagic septicemia Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS): Descriptions of viral diseases of fish are rapidly expanding. Viruses are being reported in new species, and interpretation of the significance of findings is also changing. Several viral diseases... read more . Notification of reportable aquatic diseases should be made directly to the State Veterinarian and to the USDA Area Veterinarian in Charge.

Health Certification of Reportable Diseases and Regulatory Concerns in Aquaculture

A major role of the aquaculture veterinarian is health inspection or certification of animals leaving a facility. Movement of animals may be intrastate, interstate, or international. Specific testing and general health requirements for aquaculture exports vary according to region, state, country, and species. In some instances, only a visual inspection is required, whereas in others statistically determined sample sizes and more standardized diagnostic methods are necessary. Level of required oversight also varies. Some countries require only evaluation and signature by a licensed veterinarian, whereas others require the oversight and acknowledgement of the national competent authority. USDA APHIS is the competent authority for commercial aquaculture in the US and provides information on specific import/export requirements by country.

For importing countries requiring USDA APHIS oversight, veterinarians must be licensed to practice in the US and obtain veterinary accreditation (Category 2 accreditation is required for aquaculture) through USDA APHIS for evaluation of aquaculture species. USDA APHIS is also tasked to protect aquaculture in the US from foreign disease introduction. For facilities within the US that import fish, USDA APHIS determines health requirements for incoming shipments, with fish, crustacean, molluscan, and amphibian diseases of concern listed by the OIE currently considered reportable by USDA APHIS; however, not all of these are program diseases with specific actions required for positive cases.

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