Field Exam of Wild Fish
Welcome to Standardized Procedures (QA/QC)
Where We’ve Been
In 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the National Wild Fish Health Survey (NWFHS), a congressional initiative to study fish diseases in wild fish. The purpose of the survey is to determine the prevalence and distribution of fish pathogens to gain a better understanding of aquatic animal health in natural populations. Fish Health specialists immediately understood the importance of utilizing the most sensitive detection methods, and incorporated advances in molecular diagnostics, such as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assay, into their testing methods. The FWS Aquatic Animal Health Program also recognized the extreme importance of developing standardized procedures and laboratory methods for the 9 Fish Health Centers conducting the surveys across the country.
This necessity to impose the most sensitive testing methods and strict standardization was accomplished with the publication of the USFWS – National Wild Fish Health Survey Laboratory Procedures Manual (True, 2004). This detailed set of SOP’s addressed all aspects of the Survey from field collection, through laboratory assays, to final reporting of the data in a national database. The deviation from standard “Bluebook” protocol presented the FWS-AAH laboratories with the opportunity to field test and benchmark advanced molecular techniques developed for detection of pathogen genome segments from fish tissues. This “bench testing” effort has contributed to the validation and acceptance process of these methods for detection of fish pathogens. Annual revisions of the NWFHS Manual are accomplished by FWS fish health specialists to reflect advancing molecular techniques and continually improve the sensitivity of these detection methods.
The FWS-AAHP strong commitment to QA/QC, demonstrated in the quality of the NWFHS Manual, led to the evolution of a complete set of protocols and procedures for all aquatic animal health functions. This Handbook of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Fish Health Procedures and Protocols, is a compilation of procedure manuals that consist of the following volumes:
Concurrently, the FWS-AAHP standardization effort led to a successful collaboration with AFS-FHS to revise the Bluebook in 2003, and include a new section, Standard Procedures for Aquatic Animal Health Inspections, which is assembled by many individuals with academic and field expertise. This is a compilation of minimal standards and methodologies determined to be most appropriate for detecting the presence of specific pathogens when carrying out health inspections on aquatic animals. These inspections may be used for intrastate, interstate, or international movement of animals. However, the final decision to require the use of these protocols remains in the hands of those regulating bodies requesting/requiring health inspections. Nonetheless, the combined efforts and expertise of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Health Centers and the American Fisheries Society Fish Health Section has resulted in an impressive manual which is a major accomplishment towards national standards for aquatic animal health inspections.
The partnership of AFS and FWS-AAHP is also an important endeavor towards standardizing international trade and commerce for aquaculture in the United States and Europe. The Inspection Manual Committees are dedicated to aligning aquatic animal health inspections with the international health codes and procedures specified by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), whenever possible. In addition, several FWS-AAH personnel are active participants on the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA) Task Force and Working Groups. The mission of the Task Force is to develop a National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP) which provides for national and international commerce of aquatic animals and protection of cultured and wild aquatic animals from foreign pests and diseases, to meet U.S government trade obligations.
The FWS-AAHP provides excellence in science and continues to be a leader in aquatic
animal health in the United States. In addition to accomplishments towards national
standardization, the Fish Health Centers maintain a comprehensive Quality Improvement
(QI) program, which includes standardized reagents, applied studies, and continuing
education and training for our fish health specialists.
Standardized Biologics and Reagents for all Viral Testing
Standardized Reagents and Reference (Negative Control) Materials
for Immunological Assays
Bacteriology: Utilize high quality, standardized culture controls for identification of bacterial fish pathogens, obtained directly from ATCC, or similar commercial sources such as KWIK-STIK PLUS Microorganisms (minimizes passage number of ATCC reference strains).
Conduct Quality Assurance Studies and Applied Research
Through the efforts of our Fish Health Centers, the public, states, tribes, and non-government organizations can be confident that our Aquatic Animal Health Program will provide high quality technical information, and continue to protect and conserve the health of our aquatic animal species for the benefit of the American people.