North Central Regional Aquaculture Center Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia project

Michigan Sea Grant Extension partnered with local and regional animal health professionals to conduct VHS-biosecurity workshops for aquaculture industry to help reduce risk of spreading of VHS.

When Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) entered the Great Lakes, the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) funded a project to help manage and prevent the spread of this fish disease in the region.

The project scope included a safety and efficacy study of iodine disinfection on walleye, northern pike and hybrid striped bass eggs infected with VHS. Egg iodophor disinfection appears to effectively eliminate VHSv (strain IVb) from the surfaces of walleye and northern pike eggs. Although certain iodophor disinfection regimens reduced egg hatch in this study, similar iodophor disinfec­tion regimens applied shortly after fertilization (~5 minutes) to walleye eggs in previous studies did not alter egg hatch. Incorpo­ration of iodophor disinfection at 100 parts per million during gamete collection from nonsalmonid fishes immediately (less than 5 minutes) post fertilization for 30 minutes or at 90 minutes after fertilization for 10 minutes may reduce VHSv (strain IVb) transmission without affecting egg hatch.

Additionally, eight VHS-biosecurity workshops were conducted at aquaculture facilities in the North Central Region. Michigan Sea Grant partnered with local and regional animal health professionals to present information on fish disease transmission, and VHS and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) planning specific to developing a biosecurity plan for aquaculture facilities. The workshops were held at facilities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and South Dakota that included pond, flow through and recirculating aquaculture systems. HACCP plans were developed for each of the hosting facilities with special emphasis on system type (pond, recirculating, or flow-through) and business activities (wild stocking, egg and fingerling production, or grow out for food). Utilizing the existing Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) HACCP Training Curriculum, specific fish disease HACCP plans for each of the facilities involved in the workshops were developed.

A VHS “Response” Packet was developed containing information for aquaculture producers on the signs, susceptible species and prevention of VHS. A “Biosecurity for Aquaculture Facilities” presentation was also developed that incorporated the biosecurity workshops that were held throughout the region.

Michigan Sea Grant was a participant in this project and presented a summary of these project accomplishments at the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center Annual Conference at Michigan State University in February. Other participants included the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center-U.S. Geological Survey,Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For additional information about attending or scheduling a workshop or to inquire about obtaining a VHS “Response” Packet, contact Ron Kinnunen, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator, Upper Peninsula at (906) 226-3687.

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