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Precautionary powers in place to stop the spread of Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia

UK - Defra has re-designated the Ouse catchment area around the Viral Haemorragic Septicaemia (VHS) outbreak in North Yorkshire as potentially infected waters'.

Precautionary powers in place to stop the spread of Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia - UK - Defra has re-designated the Ouse catchment area around the Viral Haemorragic Septicaemia (VHS) outbreak in North Yorkshire as potentially infected waters'.

This is a precautionary measure, there have been no new cases. This change means that the Fish Health Inspectorate has the legal power to put in place stricter biosecurity measures to reduce the potential spread of the disease if necessary. All fish farms in the designated area have also been named on the Order.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture (Cefas) is currently undertaking an epidemiological investigation to determine the source of infection and whether any spread has occurred. Wild and farmed fish are being sampled within the catchment to determine the extent of spread of the infection.

The infected site has been cleared of fish (which have been sent for disposal at an approved rendering plant). Once the disease situation has been fully investigated certain fish movements may be allowed to take place in the affected area with the supervision of the Cefas Fish Health Inspectorate.

The live fish movement restriction does not apply to the movement of ornamental fish to or from pet shops and aquaria. VHS has no implications for human health.

On the 22 nd May, Fish Health Inspectors from the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), acting on behalf of Defra, inspected a trout farm in Yorkshire following a report from the farm manager of high levels of mortality in the farm stock. Samples were taken and analysed at the Cefas Weymouth laboratory, and the presence of Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) has been confirmed. VHS is a notifiable disease which affects mainly farmed rainbow trout, and can cause significant mortality.

This is the first outbreak of VHS recorded in mainland Great Britain, although there was an outbreak of the marine form of the disease in farmed turbot in the Isle of Gigha in 1994. The Diseases of Fish (Designated Areas) (England)(No.2)Order 2006 restricts the movement of any live fish or live eggs of fish into or out of the designated area and farms without the prior written consent of Defra.

The designated area is now defined as:

  • the geographical area from which water drains to form the Yorkshire River Ouse catchment to its Estuarial Water Limit at Boothe Ferry Bridge, National Grid Reference SE7333 2625; and
  • the geographical area from which water drains to form the River Don catchment to its Estuarial Water Limit at Goole, National Grid Reference SE7495 2288.

The following table contains the names and addresses of the farms the Order applies to:


Further information on VHS and other serious freshwater diseases can be found on the Defra website and in its Combating Fish Disease publication. Our sister site, www.efishbusiness.co.uk also provides information on fish health matters.

To organise a fish health inspection on suspicion of an outbreak, contact the CEFAS Fish Health Inspectorate on 01305 206673/74. or by sending an email to: fish.health.inspectorate@cefas.co.uk

This Designated Area Order (DAO) came into force on 7th June 2006.

Further Information

For more information, view the Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia Fact Sheet

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