Testing fish for international movement

Aquatics lab
Jamie Femreite, a microbiologist, works in the Aquatic Health lab Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman. (College of Veterinary Medicine/Ted S. Warren)

Producers and veterinarians exporting aquatic animals internationally must use USDA-APHIS approved laboratories to conduct their certification testing. WADDL’s Aquatic Health Laboratory is approved by USDA-APHIS to conduct diagnostic testing in support of export health certification of aquaculture species.

Why perform health certification testing for international export at WADDL?

Producers across the United States use WADDL to test thousands of fish every year for export health certification testing. WADDL performs certification testing using methods required by international fish health regulators, most frequently following the Aquatic Manual of the World Organization for Animal Health (formerly known as the OIE) standards. WADDL can also perform certification testing that meets American Fisheries Society-Fish Health Section Blue Book’s USFWS/AFS-FHS Standard Procedures for Aquatic Animal Health Inspections; this testing method is more commonly performed for interstate fish movements (see WADDL Aquatic Health Topic about “Testing Fish for Interstate Movement”).

In addition to being a USDA-APHIS approved laboratory, the veterinarians and staff at WADDL have extensive knowledge of requirements and procedures for exporting fish from the United States. Clients who use WADDL for their export health certification testing needs can count on professionals at WADDL to provide them with accurate guidance about testing requirements and methodology.

What does it mean to be a USDA-APHIS approved laboratory?

Some foreign countries require certification testing to be performed at a laboratory approved by the exporting country’s animal health regulatory authority; USDA-APHIS approves laboratories that can conduct export health certification of animals in the United States. Laboratories must apply to USDA-APHIS for approval for each individual test that they offer for export health certification testing. Approved tests must have detailed protocols and designated technical staff that perform them. Approved laboratories are inspected biennially.

What tests at WADDL are USDA-APHIS approved?

WADDL’s Aquatic Viral Culture tests are virus isolation testing methods that can screen for epizootic hematopoietic necrosis virus, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (see WADDL Aquatic Health Topic about IHNV), infectious salmon anemia virus, spring viremia of carp virus, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus.

In addition, WADDL has PCR tests approved for infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV)koi herpesvirus (KHV)salmonid alphavirus (SAV)spring viremia of carp virus (SVCV), and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV).

What if a producer is unsure what type of fish health testing is required for export?

WADDL works closely with clients and helps them select the correct testing regime for fish export endeavors. Certification testing takes research, planning, and time. If you have any questions about export health certification testing of aquaculture species, do not hesitate to contact us and we will work together to develop a testing plan for your needs.