Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Shellfish Diseases

Shellfish Health Examination Program

Since 1995 the Virginia Marine Resources Commission has had in place regulations pertaining to the importation of fish, shellfish, or crustaceans into Virginia waters. Most recently amended in November 2002, this regulation (# VAC 20-754-10 ET.SEQ) defines the shellfish species that have been approved for importation into Virginia waters, establishes the approved states and waters from which the shellfish may originate, and sets the criteria necessary for the importation of such shellfish into the waters of the Commonwealth. An important criteria established by this regulation is that the imported shellfish must be absent of any known shellfish pathogen.  The regulation states that the absence of shellfish pathogens must be determined by histological examination and fluid thioglycollate culture assays of a random sample of 60 individuals from the population in question.  Such examination must be conducted prior to each importation and must be documented in a certified statement from an approved shellfish pathologist.  The certified statement must accompany the shipment of the shellfish intended for importation.  

VIMS has a Shellfish Health Examination Program in place to facilitate compliance to VMRC Regulation VAC 20-754-10 ET.SEQ and similar regulations that have been established by other states.  Virginia shellfish growers and industry members interested in having shellfish examined for pathogens, as required for importation or exportation purposes, are encouraged to submit samples for analysis.  Following the state guidelines a random sample of 60 individuals must be submitted for analysis.  The sample should be submitted with a completed VIMS Shellfish Pathology Health Examination Request Form (in Adobe pdf format).  To submit samples, interested parties must contact VIMS Shellfish Diseases Laboratory ((804) 684-7377) before shipping or delivering shellfish samples to the laboratory.  The analysis typically takes from 1-3 weeks.  Persons submitting samples of shellfish originating from non-Virginia sources will be charged for the examination.  At the present time there is no fee for samples originating from Virginia based hatcheries and waters.