The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued an interim rule, effective Oct. 30, 2006, to restrict importation of fish susceptible to spring viremia of carp.
Spring viremia of carp affects certain finfish including goldfish, koi, bighead carp, Crucian carp, grass carp, silver carp, sheatfish, and tench. The contagious viral disease appeared in Yugoslavia in 1969, and it has spread to other countries in Europe and Asia.
The disease does not exist in U.S. farmed fish, though the European strain of SVC exists at a low prevalence in wild fish populations in the United States.
In 2002, a koi farm in North Carolina experienced an outbreak of SVC. In 2004, an operation in Missouri and a hobbyist in Washington reported SVC outbreaks. Investigations linked the outbreaks to importation of fish from areas where SVC exists or might exist. The viral strain in all three outbreaks was of an Asian genotype.
The outbreaks of the foreign animal disease resulted in an emergency declaration, allowing APHIS to implement control and eradication programs. The USDA has issued similar emergency declarations in recent years for infectious salmon anemia, as well as for avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease in poultry.
The new rule on SVC allows importation of live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes of susceptible species through certain ports where veterinarians can inspect shipments. Shipments require an APHIS import permit and a health certificate from a veterinarian or certifying official from the exporting region. The exporting region or establishment must demonstrate freedom from SVC.
The regulations appeared in the Aug. 30 Federal Register, available at www.gpoaccess.gov/.
Information also is available from Dr. Peter L. Merrill, Aquaculture Specialist, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 39, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231, phone, (301) 734-0649; or Dr. Jill B. Rolland, Fishery Biologist, National Center for Animal Health Programs, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 46, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231, phone, (301) 734-7727.