Jim Rogers (202) 690-4755
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2006--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an emergency order today prohibiting the importation of certain species of live fish from two Canadian provinces into the United States and the interstate movement of the same species from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes due to outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).
This action is in response to the rapid spread of VHS in the Great Lakes region and the potential impact on a growing number of fish species. VHS is a destructive pathogen that produces clinical signs in fish including internal hemorrhaging and death. The disease does not pose a risk to people, but it has been found to affect a number of fish species previously not known to be susceptible including baitfish species, Coho salmon and channel catfish.
In addition to prohibiting the importation of certain species of live fish from Ontario and Quebec, Canada, the interstate movement of these species will also be prohibited from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Dead and diseased wild fish have been reported in Lakes Ontario, St. Clair and Erie as well as the St. Lawrence River. An outbreak was also reported last month in fish from New York's Conesus Lake, a body of water in the Great Lakes watershed but without direct connection to the lower Great Lakes. It is not known how this disease arrived in the Great Lakes area, but APHIS will continue to monitor the situation and take whatever actions are necessary to control its spread.
With the number of the potentially susceptible fish species still growing, new fish species affected by this emergency order will be updated as necessary to prevent the further spread of this disease. For a complete list of live fish included in the emergency order, please visit our Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/.
The emergency order putting these protections in place can be found on our Website at /vs/aqua/. An interim rule is anticipated to be enacted in early 2007 detailing the new requirements.
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet. Go to the APHIS news release page at /lpa/newsroom. Also, anyone with an e-mail address can sign up to receive APHIS press releases automatically. Send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.