The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an emergency order Oct. 24 to prevent further spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in fish in the Great Lakes region.
The emergency order prohibits importation of several dozen species of live fish from Ontario and Quebec into the United States. The order prohibits interstate movement of these species out of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia induces destructive clinical signs in fish, including internal hemorrhaging, and death. Outbreaks have occurred in lakes Ontario, St. Clair, and Erie as well as the St. Lawrence River. A September outbreak occurred in New York's Conesus Lake, a body of water in the Great Lakes watershed but without direct connection to the lower Great Lakes.
Although no one knows how VHS arrived in the Great Lakes region, APHIS will continue to monitor the situation and take actions to prevent further spread.
Because the list of susceptible species is growing, APHIS also will update the emergency order as necessary.
The emergency order and additional information are available at www.aphis.usda.gov. An interim rule is likely to follow in early 2007 detailing the new requirements.