General Quarantine Protocol – Infrastructures and Operations
The period of holding the introduced or transferred specimens into the Quarantine Facility will depend on the various factors: species to be introduce, life cycle to be introduced, pathogens that could be introduced and spread with the stock (among these pathogens – pathogens not considered further and pathogens for further consideration) and other possible imported stock hitch-hikers.
One of the most relevant points in order to define the required – more or less conservative – quarantine period is the possibility of introduction of pathogens that could be vertically transmitted (by one generation to the next one), or “hidden” pathogens, which could have long incubation periods or cause sub-clinical infections. According to these factors, either the imported stock or the following generations (F1, F2 and so on) would be released after the quarantine process, where testing and monitoring of pathogens for further consideration will be carried out, as it is described below.
In all cases, once the Competent Authority is satisfied that the introduced stock, the F1 or a subsequent generation is safe for limited release, the specimens could be released. In the case of vertically spread pathogens, it is advisable to maintain the parent stock at the facility. Once the F1 has been tested; parent stock should be destroyed and the Quarantine Facility thoroughly disinfected. An application to introduce or transfer an aquatic animal entails a commitment to maintain the animals under conditions of strict quarantine, sometimes, even for a number of years. The quarantine period will need to take into account the life history of the aquatic animal being introduced or transferred. If a pathogen or infectious disease is detected at any point while the imported aquatic animals and their progeny are under quarantine, the supervising Quarantine Officer may require treatment and further testing. If the disease is of a serious and/or untreatable nature, destruction of all aquatic animals held in the facility should be ordered and complete disinfection of the building, water and all equipment should be required before permission to restock is granted.
2.1 Location of quarantine facilities
It is always advisable to avoid quarantine areas in the vicinity of private or government fish hatcheries, aquaculture facilities, watercourses or areas subject to frequent flooding. In cases when the quarantine area is located in the vicinity of another aquaculture facility, water disinfection and filtration protocols described below, for inlet and outlet should be followed very strictly.
2.2 General requirements
Access to the Quarantine Facility should be through property owned or leased on a long-term basis by the operator and should be available to Quarantine Officers during normal business hours and at such time that aquatic animals are entering or leaving the facility.
2.3 Specific construction and equipment requirements
The Quarantine Facility should comply with the following specific construction and equipment requirements:
(a) Windows should be screened to prevent the entry of insects.
(b) Floor and walls should be constructed of concrete, tiles or other impervious material to enable hose down and disinfection with retention of all wastewater. The floor should be sufficiently smooth and with sufficient grade to drain to an enclosed holding tank.
(c) Floor to wall junctions and all gaps and cracks in the walls, floor and ceiling should be effectively sealed such that the quarantine area is capable of containing all leaks and floods that might occur.
(d) Lighting should be of sufficient intensity to allow proper inspection of all aquatic animals.
(e) Floor drainage with an insertable plug or other mechanism to prevent the accidental escape of aquatic animals or uncontrolled release of water should be installed. Drainage should be to an approved holding tank. The holding tank should be of suitable size to contain the total volume of all tanks used for the holding of aquatic animals
(f) Doors should be equipped with self-closing mechanisms to ensure that they remain closed after entry, or there should be a self-closing insect-proof screen door installed.
(g) Access to the Quarantine Facility should only be through a personnel entrance leading to a separate outer change room provided with facilities for staff and Quarantine Officers to wash their hands and change outer clothing prior to entering or leaving the quarantine area.
(h) A footbath containing disinfectant should be placed at the entrance door to the quarantine facility.
(i) All holding tanks for aquatic animals should:
(j) As all aquatic animals within the facility should be considered to have the same quarantine status, the use of a shared water recirculation system is permissible but not advisable, as it may facilitate the spread of pathogens between tanks.
(k) All entry and exit points to the Quarantine Facility should prominently display a permanently affixed, quarantine sign that states “Quarantine Area–Authorized Persons Only”. Such signs should be highly visible.
(l) A suitable wash-up trough should be located in the quarantine area for the cleaning and disinfecting of equipment. An approved disinfectant should be available at the wash-up trough.
(m) A designated refrigerator or freezer should be provided solely for the storage and preservation of dead aquatic animals. The refrigerator or freezer should be clearly identified as being for quarantine use only – be lockable, and located within the quarantine area.
(n) Equipment necessary to carry out the disinfection all wastewater (both the overseas transport water and all domestic waters used in the Quarantine Facility) should be supplied.
(o) Secure storage facilities for food used for aquatic animals should be provided such that contamination or infestation by pests is prevented.
(p) A fully stocked first aid cabinet should be provided and maintained.
(q) Amenities that should be provided for use by Quarantine Officers include access to a desk and chair, a telephone with a direct outside line, toilet facilities, hand washing facilities (within the quarantine area) and a hygienic means of drying hands, and suitable arrangements for daily cleaning of amenities.
3.1 Influent water
All influent water entering the Quarantine Facility should be from an approved water source certified to be free from biological material, including any possible infective agents.
Alternatively, water from other sources may be used; however, it should be filtered to remove suspended matter and then sterilized using a method approved by the Competent Authority before being used in the Quarantine Facility.
3.2 Wastewater sterilization and disposal
All wastewater to be discharged from the Quarantine Facility should be appropriately sterilized. Sterilized wastewater should not be discharged directly into natural waterways. Disposal of wastewater should also conform to any state and local government requirements. Wastewater should be sterilized in accordance with one of the following methods:
(i) All water should pass through an approved filter capable of removing suspended organic material prior to hypochlorite treatment.
(ii) All water should pass to a retention vessel where sufficient hypochlorite is be added to achieve a minimum concentration of 200 parts per million (ppm)
(iii) Before the treatment period commences, the chlorinated effluent should be brought to a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.
(iv) Following addition of hypochlorite, wastewater should be agitated for at least 10 min to ensure thorough mixing of hypochlorite.
(v) After a retention period of not less than 1 h, the chlorine concentration is measured using an approved method (e.g. commercially available chlorine test kit). Tanks not achieving a minimum chlorine concentration of 200 ppm
(vi) The chlorine in the wastewater should be neutralized by adding sodium thiosulphate at a rate of 1.25 g (2.5 ml of 50 percent sodium thiosulphate solution) per l of treated wastewater, then, agitated for not less than 10 min before discharge.
(vii) Chlorination records should be maintained noting: the amount of compound added, the volume of effluent, the time that treatment period commenced, the pH at commencement of the treatment period, the 1 hr post-treatment concentration, the amount of sodium thiosulphate added to achieve neutralization and the of residual chlorine concentration at discharge.
(viii) Chlorinated water should not be discharged directly into adjacent waterways.
(b) Heat treatment
Prior to discharge, wastewater shall be heated to at least 85 C for a minimum of 30 minutes. Water heating units should be approved by the Competent Authority and be fitted with temperature and flow recorders.
(c) Ultraviolet (UV) light radiation
As particles in the water may shade pathogens from the effects of UV light, all water to be treated should pass through an approved filter capable of removing suspended organic material prior to irradiation.
Commercial UV water treatment units operating in the spectral range of 190-280 nm (254 nm recommended) delivering doses of at least 130 mWs/cm2 are required. As UV bulbs will burn long after their effectiveness has waned, the burning time of the UV lamp should be monitored, and the lamp replaced according to manufacturer’s specifications.
3.3 Disinfection of equipment
Before removal from the quarantine area, and before any restocking, all tanks and tank equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with:
If possible, filter material should be disposed of by autoclaving followed by incineration or deep burial.
3.4 Disposal of dead aquatic animals
Dead aquatic animals should only be disposed of as directed by the Competent Authority. Aquatic animals that have died while under quarantine should held in an approved freezer, an approved refrigerator, or preserved using another method as specified by the Authority (or other officer in charge) until removed for laboratory examination or released for disposal by the supervising Quarantine Officer. Upon approval, dead aquatic animals should be disposed of by sterilization using of an approved autoclave, followed by incineration or deep burial.
3.5 Disposal of packing materials
All containers (bags, boxes and cartons) used to hold aquatic animals during transit should be disinfected using the methods of disinfection specified under “Disinfection of Equipment” and then, disposed of by incineration, deep burial or another method approved by the supervising Quarantine Officer.
4.1 Cleanliness and sanitation
4.2 Handling of aquatic animals
Upon arrival of a shipment of aquatic animals at the approved port of entry, and following verification of the accuracy of details of the shipment and its preliminary inspection and clearance by customs officers, the shipment should be resealed by the supervising Quarantine Officer with an approved tamperproof seal and then transferred to the custody of the operator, who should guarantee the secure transport of the aquatic animals, under quarantine conditions, to the Quarantine Facility.
4.3 Occurrence of an outbreak of a serious exotic disease
If a serious exotic disease is diagnosed, the operator should be immediately notified. In such cases, the supervising Quarantine Officer or other representative of the Authority may direct the management of disease control. Disease control measures may include the extension of quarantine, treatment and/or the destruction of stock.
Measures to be taken are likely to include:
5.1 Summary records
A complete history of the stock of aquatic animals being contained in the Quarantine Facility should be maintained. The operator should, for auditing purposes, maintain all documentation (shipping bills, health certificates, biosecurity clearance, etc.) and records for a minimum period of 36 months after closure of the Quarantine Facility, during which time they will, upon request, be readily made available to a Quarantine Officer.
The following summary information concerning the quarantined stock should be recorded:
For parent stock, and for any F1 or subsequent generation aquatic animals that for any reason have not been approved for release from quarantine upon termination of the quarantine license: number and size of aquatic animals destroyed, date and method of destruction and disposal and signature of the supervising Quarantine Office; and for F1 or subsequent generation aquatic animals, if approved for limited release from quarantine: number and size of aquatic animals released, date of release, destination, summary of any risk management measures or restrictions to be employed and signature of the supervising Quarantine Officer.
5.2 Tank record sheets
A corresponding approved Tank Record Sheet should be maintained for each holding tank and must be kept up to date at all times. Tank Record Sheets should be retained for a minimum of 36 months following release from quarantine of the portion of the shipment held in the specific tank, or their destruction.
This sheet should display the following information if possible:
5.3 Operations and entry logbooks
Signature at exit indicates that the exiting staff has confirmed that the Quarantine Facility was in proper order at the time of his/her exit and that the premises have been left in a secure manner. The operator should ensure that all staff conform to these requirements and should verify the accuracy of record keeping on a weekly basis. The logbook should be made available for examination by the supervising Quarantine Officer upon request.
The operator should develop a contingency plan addressing actions to be taken in the event of on-site emergencies that may arise, such as fire, flood, electrical failure or breakdown of essential equipment (aerators pumps, etc.). In the case of emergency, the supervising Quarantine Officer should be notified as soon as possible.
Other Risk Management measures complementary to quarantine
Quarantine should be seen as one of a wide range of risk management measures that can be applied, either alone or in combination, to reduce the risks posed by aquatic animal pathogens. The decision whether or not to require quarantine or other biosecurity measures should be done on a case- by-case basis and determined by a risk analysis. Some of the other complementary approaches that can be applied and provides some references that can be consulted for further information are provided below. Risk reduction measures are subdivided into pre-border and post-border measures
Pre-border measures are often critically dependent on the inspection, certification and compliance regime of the exporting country and are most effective when undertaken as a cooperative undertaking by the Competent Authorities of the importing and exporting countries.
The inspection, testing and certification of hatcheries and other aquaculture production facilities as free from specific pathogens is a highly effective method to assure freedom from many serious diseases.
The pathogen for which freedom is certified varies between SPF production facilities and species. There is also no universally accepted standard (e.g. type, number and frequency of diagnostic testing that must be performed) as to the criteria that must be met for a production facility to achieve SPF production status.
Sourcing stock from production facilities located in disease-free zones is another highly effective method to assure that the aquatic animals being moved are free from certain serious pathogens. Such a system is currently in place in the European Union.
Juvenile stages and especially fertilized eggs generally carry fewer subclinical infections than do adult animals.
Restricting importations to surface-disinfected fertilized eggs is often an effective way to prevent the movement of parasites, most bacteria and some viruses.
Allowing importation only of certain preapproved “lower risk” species is an effective means to reduce the likelihood of pathogen introduction. Such lists should be country-specific as determined by risk analysis, taking into consideration the various national factors, including possible end uses.
Importing countries may wish to establish lists of exporting countries that have met preset risk management conditions and thus can be pre-approved as lower risk sources for certain types of aquatic animals.
Such conditions might include, for example:
For movements of “high risk” species, the Competent Authority of the importing country may wish to make on-site visits to proposed hatchery or other production facilities to verify the biosecurity measures that are in place to support claims of health status.
In cases where, as part of a risk assessment, the Competent Authority of an importing country has uncertainty regarding the zoo sanitary measures used by a potential exporting country, an evaluation of the Authority may help to relieve any specific concerns.
Inspection, certification and compliance audits.
Establishing auditing procedures to verify that exporters, importers, Competent Authorities and private contracting agencies are strictly adhering to specified protocols and requirements should be considered.
2. Post-border measures
Complementary post-border risk management measures include:
Placing restrictions on the initial use of introduced or transferred aquatic animals provides the opportunity to detect any introduced diseases prior to the animal’s general release into the natural environment and increases the opportunity for control and eradication.
Inclusion of a disease surveillance component within monitoring programmes for introduced or transferred aquatic animal species can be used to confirm that serious diseases have not been spread to new environments and in the case where serious exotic pathogens have escaped detection in quarantine, will help minimize their impacts by allowing containment or eradication programmes to be initiated at an early stage.
All proposals for introductions and transfers should include planning for actions to be taken in case escape of animals or pathogens from quarantine occur or a serious pathogen fail to be detected during quarantine and be released into aquaculture facilities or the natural environment.
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