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USDA TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS ON VIRAL HEMORRHAGIC SEPTICEMIA___________________________

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2006 --The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it will hold public meetings on viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a destructive pathogen responsible for several large-scale fish deaths in the Great Lakes region. The meetings will be held in Colorado and Tennessee Jan. 9, 2007, and in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Jan. 10, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. local time. Registration for the meeting opens at 8:00 a.m. and is required.

The purpose of these meetings is to educate the public and all interested parties on the current measures in place to prevent the spread of VHS, a disease that affects at least 37 fish species, and to gather suggestions from the public on preventing and containing this disease. Written comments submitted at the meetings will be added to the meeting records.

Interested parties can attend any or all meetings held in the following locations:

  • January 9―Lakewood, Colo., at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services office, 134 Union Boulevard, First Floor Conference Room; and in Memphis, Tenn., at the Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue.
  • January 10―Romulus, Mich., at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Detroit Metro Airport, 8000 Merriman Road; and in Coraopolis, Pa., at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, 777 Aten Road.

VHS produces clinical signs in fish including internal hemorrhaging and death. It does not affect humans. On Nov. 14, APHIS issued a modified federal order to allow Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to move live species of fish susceptible to VHS interstate under conditions designed to prevent the spread of the disease. Conditions for interstate movement of these fish vary depending on whether the live fish are being transported for slaughter, research or other purposes. The modified federal order also allows the importation of salmonids into the United States from Ontario and Quebec, Canada, under the normal rules for importation of that species. The original federal order was put into place on Oct. 24 in response to the rapid spread of VHS in the Great Lakes region and the potential impact of the disease on a growing number of fish species.

Notice of this action is scheduled for publication in the Dec. 22 Federal Register.

For more information on the meeting please contact Jill Rolland, aquaculture specialist, USDA, APHIS,VS, 4700 River Road, Unit 46, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1231; (301) 734-7727.

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