Aquatic Animal Disease Investigations

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While all disease investigation and response situations are different, the steps involved normally include:

  • initial inspection;
  • sample collection and submission;
  • investigation;
  • disease confirmation;
  • destruction/disposal;
  • cleaning and disinfection; and
  • removal of movement controls.

CFIA initial inspection

Once the CFIA is made aware of a suspect case, a CFIA veterinary inspector will visit the premises to assess the health status of the animals. The CFIA veterinarian may decide to initiate movement controls by ordering a quarantine and / or declaring the premises an infected place to control the potential spread of disease prior to or after the initial inspection.

Sample collection and submission

Samples are necessary when the CFIA veterinary inspector suspects a reportable or immediately notifiable aquatic animal disease. If the animals are not exhibiting clinical signs and if there is no other evidence to support suspicion of a reportable or immediately notifiable disease, such as a non-negative test from a private or provincial lab, testing would not be required.

The collection, handling, transportation and storage of the samples is carefully monitored and recorded. That is why the Agency will only accept samples that have been collected by or under the oversight of a CFIA veterinary inspector and submitted to the National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System. This process is critical to ensure that test results are reliable and valid.

Investigation

The CFIAveterinary inspector begins an investigation by asking a series of questions about the health of the animals and the management practices used at the facility, including animal movements into and out of the premises.

CFIA staff may need certain documents to help in their investigation. These documents may include:

  • veterinary records and laboratory reports;
  • a detailed description of facility management practices;
  • records of purchase / sale of feed, animals, etc.
  • visitor logbooks;
  • contact information for the facility veterinarian.

Disease testing

Testing is conducted at a national aquatic animal health laboratory belonging to Fisheries and Oceans Canada using testing protocols that are validated according to international standards.

There is a minimum of two tests that are used on samples collected during the initial inspection. The most common tests use a polymerase chain reaction method or a culture method.

Destruction and disposal

If a reportable or immediately notifiable disease has been confirmed, all aquatic animals are humanely destroyed using internationally recognized methods, if necessary.

Cleaning and disinfection

Facilities in which infected aquatic animals lived must be cleaned and disinfected after all destruction and disposal activities have been completed.

This could include disinfecting nets, tanks, buildings, vehicles, boats, and equipment.

Removal of movement controls

Once cleaning and disinfection are complete on the premises, the CFIA evaluates the facility to determine when the quarantine order or infected place declaration may be removed.

Depending on the size of the facility, this whole process can take several months.

Completing these important steps helps ensure that a reportable or immediately notifiable aquatic animal disease has been eradicated from the premises.

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