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Welcome to Emerging Pathogens

The primary mission of the FWS-Aquatic Animal Health Program is working with partners to provide state-of-the-art aquatic animal health services to protect and enhance the health of aquatic animal resources for the continuing benefit of the American public.

Emerging pathogens are broadly defined as recently detected infectious agents that did not previously occur within the United States. Emerging pathogens can also occur, through introductions, in smaller specific geographical areas, or in specific families or species of fish, shellfish, or amphibians. Some emerging pathogens occur naturally as infections are spread between species, or environmental conditions tip the balance in favor of these pathogenic organisms. These “exotic” (foreign) pathogens can cause disease and mortality in cultured or natural aquatic animal populations, causing a significant threat to natural resources, and monetary losses to aquaculture industry in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Aquatic Animal Health Program (FWS-AAHP) monitors the health status of salmonids coming into the United States, under Title 50, to prevent the introduction of exotic pathogens to natural fish populations, and aquatic animal aquaculture. The FWS-AAP is comprised of 9 Fish Health Centers across the United States that can respond rapidly with diagnostic testing to identify and assess the risks associated with exotic pathogens when they are inadvertently introduced into the U.S., or new areas or species.

Fish Health Centers work closely with regional aquatic animal health compacts, state fish and wildlife agencies, Native American tribes, private aquaculture, and university researchers to ensure coordination across state, regional, and international boundaries. FWS-AAHP is committed to prevention, early detection, and coordination to protect natural resources, and facilitate rapid response teams in order to control and contain new diseases when they do occur. In addition, Fish Health Centers provide sound scientific information and technical support to our partners, and through public education. Sound science and technical information to the public assists resource managers and recreational users with the information they need to prevent, or minimize the impacts exotic pathogens and pests can have on the health of aquatic animal populations.

In recent years, several fish pathogens have entered the United States, or have been detected in new areas and species. Most notable are Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISAV) in, Spring Viremia of Carp Virus (SVCV), and Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV).

More Information about these pathogens can be found in the Fish Disease Database, Fish Disease Literature, and several excellent sources provided as Related Links.

Emerging Pathogens
Related Links