Aquatic Animal Health Code
A number of diseases are regarded as posing a potential threat to aquaculture as well as to wild stocks of aquatic animals world-wide. The introduction of such diseases into countries recognised to be free from these diseases or into countries with an established control system and eradication programme for such diseases, may result in significant losses. In order to diminish such losses, the Competent Authority responsible for aquatic animal health may need to act quickly and should develop a contingency plan(s) before such events occur.
Countries must establish the necessary legal provisions that are needed for the implementation of a contingency plan(s). Such legal powers must include provisions for establishing a list of diseases for which action is needed, definitions of how such diseases should be managed if detected, provisions for access to infected/suspected sites, and other legal provisions, as needed.
Countries must establish specified crises centre(s) (disease control centre[s]) that shall have the responsibility for the co-ordination of all control measures to be carried out. Such centres could either be located centrally or locally, depending on the infrastructure in a given country. A list of the crises centre(s) that has(have) the necessary facilities to carry out disease control measures should be made widely available.
The contingency plan(s) should also state that the crises centre(s) has(have) the authority to act rapidly to bring a given disease situation under control by contacting the personnel, organisations, aquaculture establishments, etc., that are involved directly or indirectly in managing an outbreak of a disease.
The contingency plan(s) should provide information on the staff required to undertake the control measures, their responsibilities, and instructions on the chain of command.
Countries establishing a contingency plan(s) should provide a detailed set of instructions on actions to be taken when a specified aquatic animaldisease is suspected or confirmed. These could include:
diagnostic procedures in national reference laboratories;
confirmation of diagnosis, if necessary, at an OIE Reference Laboratory;
standing instructions to aquatic animal health personnel in the field;
instructions for sanitary slaughtering;
instructions for disease control at the local level;
provisions for controlling movements of aquatic animals in established zones;
surveillance methods for establishing successful eradication;
Countries establishing a contingency plan(s) should establish national reference laboratories having the necessary facilities for diagnostic work on aquatic animal diseases that can be carried out rapidly. The national laboratory(ies) must also have established a set of instructions as regards rapid transportation of samples, and established protocols for quality assurance and diagnostic procedures to be used.
Countries establishing a contingency plan(s) must establish necessary training programmes to ensure that skills in field, administrative and diagnostic procedures are maintained. Announced and unannounced field exercises for administrators and aquatic animal personnel should be carried out to maintain the state of readiness.
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