Aquaculture Magazine

August- September 2016

On-line Resources from the AFS Fish Health Section

The Fish Health Section (FHS) is one of the largest and most international sections of the American Fisheries Society. The FHS was formed in 1972 to give fish biologists, diagnosticians, researchers, aquaculturists, veterinarians, administrators, and others involved in fish health, an organization for communication and interaction.

By: Aquaculture Magazine

For many years, the FHS has compiled what they call “The Blue Book.” This publication has long served as a comprehensive manual for fish health practitioners. The Blue Book currently includes three sections: Diagnostic Methods, Procedures for Aquatic Animal Health Inspections, and Quality Assurance. Previously, the AFS offered The Blue Book for sale on DVD, but that activity has been discontinued. All three sections of the most recent Blue Book (2014) are available for free on the FHS web pages.

Officially titled “Suggested Procedures for the Detection and Identification of Certain Finfish and Shellfish Pathogens,” this document contains hundreds of pages of essential information for fish health professionals and students alike. Several videos are also presented to reinforce key considerations.

Section 1

Which deals with diagnostic procedures for finfish and shellfish pathogens, includes a number of topics:

• General Procedures for Bacteriology

• Gram-Negative Bacterial Diseases

• Gram-Positive Bacterial Diseases

• General Procedures for Virology

• Specific Viral Diseases

• Other Viral Diseases

• Testing Methods for Presence of Mycoplasma

• General Procedures for Parasitic Diseases

• Specific Parasitic Diseases

• General Procedures for Mycology

• Specific Mycotic Diseases

• Miscellaneous Mycotic Diseases

• Specific Molluscan Shellfish Diseases

• Specific Crustacean Diseases

Section 2

Serves as a set of standardized testing protocols to be followed when carrying out health inspections on aquatic animals. As the authors explain, using standardized procedures and protocols allows fisheries biologists and managers to better compare data and make more informed management decisions when evaluating the intrastate, interstate, or international movement of aquatic animals. Major topics in this section include:

• Sampling Procedures

• Bacteriology Procedures

• Virology Procedures

• Parasitology Procedures

• Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Procedures

• Appendices

The third section of The Blue Book was developed to ensure the quality, reproducibility and accuracy of the information and results generated by a fish health laboratory (FHL) for fish health inspection and diagnostic assays. As the authors state, following a carefully written protocol does not in itself assure that the consequence is a quality product. “In order for a laboratory to assure quality services it must first establish a system of quality control by which every aspect of laboratory management, structure and upkeep are implemented. The purpose of this Model Quality Assurance/Quality Control Program for Fish Health Laboratories is to provide a structure by which laboratories providing fish disease diagnostic services can develop individual, lab-specific programs. The document is geared for adaptation at small laboratories as well as large establishments, and will serve to address many of the critical elements provided in the ISO/IEC (International Organization for Standardization/International Electrochemical Commission) International Standards 17025, as well as those standards published by OIE in (Office International de Epizooties).”

This section covers the following topics:

• Management Responsibilities

• Personnel and Personnel Responsibilities

• Quality Assurance Coordinator

• Laboratory Facilities

• Laboratory Equipment and Supplies

• Chain of Custody/Case Tracking

• Standard Operating Protocols and Conduct of Tests

• Routine Quality Control (for various sub-topics)

The FHS also maintains a Continuing Education section on its web pages, which includes a PCR module, a PCR questions and answers section, and a Histology module. Created by Dr. Maureen Purcell, the PCR module is recommended reading for ANYONE who wants to understand how this ever-more-ubiquitous procedure works. The accompanying questions and answers section is available, as a test, in case you really want to evaluate how well you understand PCR after completing the module.

The Histology module provides an in-depth (46 page) step by step guide. The module is designed so that participants will learn how to collect tissues for examination, prepare slides and identify artifacts present in histological preparations, and understand normal teleost liver and kidney morphology. This material provides an excellent starting point for students and researchers faced with using histological methods for the first time, or for those needing to refresh their skills.

These resources are available at

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