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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 18, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Influenza-like virus found in juvenile sockeye salmon off Central British Columbia coast

I saw this story on the Washington Post website that reports indicate British Columbia fisheries officials have found a influenza-like virus in two juvenile sockeye salmon off the central coast.

The Post story went on to say that scientists in our state, “are working to improve testing of a deadly, contagious marine virus as a precaution, after the virus was detected in wild salmon for the first time on the West Coast.”

Researchers with Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and elsewhere announced Monday they had found the influenza-like virus in two juvenile sockeye salmon collected from the province’s central coast. The virus, which doesn’t affect humans, has caused losses at fish farms in Chile and other areas, and could have devastating impacts on wild salmon in the region and other species that depend on them, the researchers said.

“This is potentially very big. It’s of big concern to us,” said John Kerwin, who supervises the fish health unit at the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Even though the virus was detected in salmon collected hundreds of miles away, at Rivers Inlet in British Columbia, the virus could pose a threat because “fish don’t have any boundaries in the ocean … and salmon species stray,” he said.

The state tested about 56,000 hatchery and wild fish last year and hasn’t found signs of the virus — infectious salmon anemia, Kerwin said. But Monday’s news sent Kerwin scrambling on Tuesday to work with other agencies to find ways to beef up current testing methods. If the virus is ever detected in Washington, the state would follow containment plans that could include killing fish, he said.

For more information read the link above.

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