Friday, October 24, 2014

Recent tests of salmon from Washington's waters show no signs of a fish virus that can be deadly to farm-raised Atlantic salmon, state, tribal and federal resource managers announced today.

Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV) was not detected in tissue samples taken from more than 900 wild and hatchery-produced Pacific chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and steelhead, as well as farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

ISAV is not harmful to people.

Specific strains of the virus have caused a deadly disease in farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Outbreaks with significant losses have occurred in farmed Atlantic salmon in Maine, Eastern Canada, Chile and several European countries.

ISAV has not been documented in farmed, wild or hatchery salmon in Washington.

John Kerwin, Fish Health Program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said concerns about the possibility of the virus occurring in Washington's salmon prompted the recent tests, which are part of a two-year monitoring program specifically designed to detect ISAV.

"Our traditional testing protocols would have detected most - but not all - of the disease-causing strains of ISA virus," Kerwin said. "So we expanded our program to better detect whether any strain is present in a variety of fish species in Washington. The good news is all the samples came back negative for the virus."

Elsewhere on the west coast, there have been no confirmed reports of ISAV in wild, hatchery or farmed salmon. In 2011, a Canadian researcher reported detecting the virus in some British Columbia Pacific salmon. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the federal agency with authority for fish health in Canada, tested fish tissue samples and found no ISAV present.

Bruce Stewart, Fish Health Program manager for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, said the sampling and monitoring program is a great example of tribal, state and federal managers working together to address concerns about the health of salmon and steelhead stocks in Washington.

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