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The National Marine Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) confirmed the presence of HPR2 variant of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus in three cages in a farming centre of the Aysen Region.

This variant produces lower mortality rate and fewer symptoms in Atlantic salmon, a species that is very susceptible to this disease.

The HPR2 outbreak was detected in Ballena 3 farming centre from the companySalmones Cupquelan, owned by multi-national Cooke Aquaculture, based in New Brunswick, canada

The virus was found in 3 of the 16 cages of that farming centre, as indicated by the laboratory tests arranged by the Service.

This new ISA strain in Chile is ‘fiercer’ than previous strains, though no deaths are proven. Intrafish reporting agency reports that the Chilean fisheries agency has asked for salmon to be slaughtered following traces of this ‘fiercer’ ISA strain". In 2007, millions of salmon were slaughtered after a massive infection of ISA occurred at farms, cuasing the loss of 7,000 jobs and devastating the Chilean aquaculture industry.

Since finding a positive result, Ballena 3 Centre has already been added to the list of confirmed farming facilities.

In accordance with the Specific Health Programme of ISA Surveillance and Control, Sernapesca resolved to eliminate the salmon from the cages with positive results under the term and the biosafety procedures set by the regulation.

The salmon industry sources consulted by Diario Financiero explained that this strain is less virulent than HPRO one, which caused a serious health, labour and economic crisis between 2007 and 2011 due to the high mortality rate.

It was also added that this outbreak shows that Sernapesca early detection system works properly.

Two weeks ago, Sernapesca confirmed the finding of a new virus – HSMI –in freshwater fish from 10 sea centres in the country.

According to the analysis performed, salmon did not have the disease or the virus-associated mortality.

HSMI causes inflammation of the skeletal and cardiac muscles and it has also been identified in Norway.

The Chilean Cooke subsidiary operates a small portion of the salmon farms in Chile, but up to 30% of the “suspected” ISA infections over the past six months have occurred in Cooke-owned facilities