Outbreak of Deadly Salmon Virus Continues in Canada

Written by on January 31, 2013 in Fish, Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Photo credit: Hans-Petter Fjeld (CC-BY-SA).

Over the past few months, there have been four separate outbreaks of a deadly salmon virus in Atlantic waters. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says it can’t eradicate it so instead, they are focusing on preventing further spread of the disease.

Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), while not a danger to humans, can kill up to 90 percent of infected populations and is spread through contaminated water or equipment. There have been outbreaks in waters around Nova Scotia, Brunswick and Newfoundland.

“At first, the focus was on eradication of the disease,” said Patricia Ouellette, a regional program officer with the CFIA. “We’ve shifted gears to preventing the spread of the disease and no longer consider eradication as an option.”

These four outbreaks have been particularly deadly, leading scientists to believe that they are dealing with new strains of the virus and causing the CFIA to order the slaughter of more than one million salmon in 2012 and 2013.

Although not all fish have been lost; Cooke Aquaculture, based in New Brunswick, recently announced that it will be selling two million pounds of ISA contaminated salmon to consumers.

“There is no human risk associated with this product,” said Dr. Roland Cusack, Nova Scotia’s fish veterinarian.

However, the sale of infected fish is making some restaurant owners and consumers uneasy. It is also raising questions about the effectiveness and sustainability of salmon farming.

To learn more about ISA and the recent outbreaks, check out some of these links:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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