The Government of Canada has been notified of a suspected infectious salmon anaemia finding by a private laboratory based on samples collected in British Columbia. These tests have not been confirmed by the National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System (NAAHLS) laboratory, which uses internationally recognized test methods. Infectious salmon anaemia is not a human health concern.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the virus must be isolated and identified before infectious salmon anaemia can be confirmed. Given the way the original samples were preserved, virus isolation will not be possible. There are additional concerns with the sampling and testing methods used.
Infectious salmon anaemia is a reportable aquatic animal disease as per the Reportable Diseases Regulations.
In recent years, the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia have tested over 5000 wild and farmed salmon in British Columbia for infectious salmon anaemia. None have ever tested positive.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will work with the private laboratory to send the samples for testing and analysis at the NAAHLS laboratory run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada; however, due to the poor quality of the samples it is unlikely that the NAAHLS laboratory will be able to verify the result.
In addition, the CFIA is working on a surveillance initiative to ascertain the status of various aquatic animal diseases such as infectious salmon anaemia on the west coast, starting this spring. On February 24, 2012, the CFIA announced the surveillance plan and is seeking comments. Under this program, fish will be tested for three diseases: infectious haematopoietic necrosis, infectious pancreatic necrosis and infectious salmon anaemia.
To request a copy of the detailed draft surveillance initiative, or to submit comments, contact NAAHPPNSAA@inspection.gc.ca. Comments will be accepted until March 16, 2012.
For more information on salmon diseases, visit www.inspection.gc.ca/aquatic or call 1-800-442-2342.