Canada is adding standards for handling aquatic animal pathogens to its current lineup for handling human and animal pathogens.  And through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), comments are being accepted on the new draft standards through Jan. 4, 2010.

Federal standards exist for laboratories handling human pathogens and for facilities handling animal pathogens. The new standards outline the unique physical and operational containment requirements for facilities working with aquatic animal pathogens.

Containment Standards for Facilities Handling Aquatic Animal Pathogens is available for review on the CFIA website.

The CFIA issues import permits for aquatic animal pathogens under the Health of Animals Act. Once the standards come into effect, only facilities meeting the requirements will be issued an import permit. The standards will also be used to provide guidance on the handling of aquatic animal pathogens found in Canada.

A multi-disciplinary group including representatives from the federal government, academia and industry have reviewed the standards.

Comments on the draft standards can be submitted to and will be accepted until January 4, 2010.  CFIA asks that anyone who submits comments on the wording of the draft standards provides suggested alternate wording where possible.

Once the consultation period is complete, the comments will be reviewed and any necessary revisions will be made. The standards will then be finalized, with a transition period to follow until December 31, 2010. Following the transition period, the Standards will come into effect on January 1, 2011 and will be mandatory for facilities importing aquatic animal pathogens.