Biosecurity Practices – Essential Considerations for the Pet Fish Industry: An Introduction

Biosecurity has become an emerging issue within the ornamental fish industry. We are seeing increased discussions of  biosecurity concepts at the industry , veterinary and regulatory level. OFI has recently publish a book on biosecurity and there is chapter on biosecurity in the new book, Fundamentals of Ornamental Fish Health.  As I travel around  and visist ornamental fish facilities within the United states and internationally I am alsways interested  in learning about different approaches to biosecurity and fish health management. With my upcoming travels to Singapore and Malaysia I thought it would be a good time to begin a series of discussions about biosecurity from our perspective here at OSU. What follows are some thoughts developed by myself and my colleague, Dr. Jerry Heidel.

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity consists of the practices and procedures used to prevent the introduction, emergence, spread, and persistence of infectious agents and disease within and around fish production and holding facilities. Furthermore, these practices help eliminate conditions that can enhance disease susceptibility among the fish. In short, biosecurity precautions are put in place to exclude and contain fish pathogens. Biosecurity practices are applicable to all levels of the ornamental fish industry: producers, wholesalers, retailers, and hobbyists.   Proper use of biosecurity measures will help prevent introduction of infectious disease in a fish facility, and will also help minimize the risk of diseases being passed from producer to hobbyist.

As import-export regulations for ornamental fish become increasingly stringent on a global level, veterinarians may be called upon to assist ornamental fish facilities in the planning and implementation of biosecurity programs. We will present a brief overview of the major considerations that should be taken into account when developing a biosecurity program for an ornamental fish facility.

Basic biosecurity procedures are uniform across the industry, but the biosecurity plan will be tailored to meet the special needs of each business.  As the scope, needs, and finances of the business change, the facility manager will modify and adjust biosecurity measures accordingly, yet maintain the basic tenets of good biosecurity practices.

Designing and implementing biosecurity practices can be simplified if we consider some basic themes: pathogen exclusion, pathogen containment, and basic best health practices. We will consider the elements of each, and show how these elements will allow you to hinder access of pathogens to a facility, control the spread of pathogens that may emerge, and promote high health and disease resistance among the fish in the facility. The overlap of practices addressing these themes will become evident.

Next we will discuss basic concepts of pathogen exclusion, pathogen containment and finally best health practices. I look forward to your discussions. TMM