Infectious Salmon Amenia – The Next Deadly Illness?

Concern is rising over the discovery of a fatal virus in wild Pacific salmon that previously was limited to Atlantic salmon, which are also raised on West Coast fish farms.

Infectious salmon anemia was found in two wild sockeye smolts (young fish) collected on the central British Columbia coast, the CBC reported.

Fatal Virus Found In West Coast Salmon

From Yahoo News:

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is investigating recent reports that infectious salmon anemia has been detected in wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia,” said a statement issued Friday morning.

Federal officials said they’re working with the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, which conducted the initial testing on behalf of Simon Fraser University professor Rick Routledge, to confirm the finding.

“If the disease is confirmed through this analysis, the CFIA will, in consultation with partners and stakeholders, identify and take appropriate next steps,” said the statement.

Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said Thursday the tests were “far from conclusive,” Postmedia News reported.

Millions Of Fish Died In Chile

The virus found in the infected sockeye was identified as a European strain found in Atlantic wild salmon. It devastated Chilean fish farms in 2007-08, killing millions of fish. British Columbia fish farms have imported more than 30 million Atlantic salmon eggs from U.S. and European sources over the last 25 years.

Despite Ashfield’s assurances, three U.S. West Coast senators issued a statement Thursday that called on the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force to analyze the risk of what they called “the Canadian virus” spreading.

From Yahoo News:

“We need to act now to protect the Pacific Northwest’s coastal economy and jobs,” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said in a joint statement with her two Alaska colleagues.

“There’s no threat to human health, but infectious salmon anemia could pose a serious threat to Pacific Northwest wild salmon and the thousands of Washington State jobs that rely on them.”

Morton, who has alleged sea lice from fish farms were responsible for drops in wild salmon returns, raised concerns about the virus after seeing B.C. Agriculture and Lands Ministry disease reports describing “classic” symptoms of salmon anemia, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Endangered Species

Multiple species of wild Pacific salmon, which migrate between freshwater rivers and the saltwater ocean, are listed as endangered species, their numbers threatened by declining river habitat, hydroelectric dams, rising water temperatures and other factors.

Infectious salmon anemia is not contagious to humans, but it has many people here worried. Wild salmon are a cultural symbol, a political wedge, a marketing phenomenon and good eats.

Zach Corrigan, fish program director at Food & Water Watch, had this to say:

“While we cannot say for certain what caused this particular outbreak of infectious salmon anemia, salmon fish farms present the perfect conditions for it to spread like wild fire. The salmon industry in Chile, for instance, was devastated by the same virus due to the filthy conditions inherent in factory fish farms. Haven’t we learned anything from factory farming on land? It’s a bastion of disease. We should be pursuing closed-system, land-based fish farming methods instead of factory farming our oceans.”

Enough said: factory farming is bad news, as if we didn’t already know that!

Related Stories

Attend Conference To End Factory Farming

Big Ag Circles The Wagons Against Activists

Antibiotics Don’t Stand A Chance Against Superbugs

Photo Credit: spryete808


Haleene W.
Haleene W.5 years ago

We all need to return to the basics. Do your own fishing, hunt your own meat, plant trees, cook with firewood, Ride a bike a horse, or walk.... Live smaller. Stop depending on big business to satisfy all your needs, "need less."
We are a population of overindulged brats. We use Earths depleting resources to live in our overbuilt housing, We buy junk we don't need instead of having our animals fixed, We are so busy that babysitters pre-schools and teaches raise our kids, our excuse for why we don't know what went wrong...
We don't care how we get things or how they are gotten rid of, as long as we got what we worked for and "just wanted." Like it is our right to destroy our environment, because "we have money," and there is no absurd law to say what we already know we should only buy what we really need. Showing off our goods only shows how stupid we are about our planet.

Money, politics, power, and greed is killing our planet, and no one really cares enough to step back and change their own lives. So quite whining. We all now have what we earned. A planet that is dying while we participate in it's inevitable death to the end. Just saying...

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Eating fish is good for people. Our fish farmers do NOT seem to have figured out how to feed farmed fish to optimize omega 3 essential oil content of farmed fish.

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m6 years ago

@Catherine B., Thanls for mentionong the forests, I was lax in forgetting to..
Scientific studies have found salmon DNA at the top of gigantic old growth trees her in the Pacific Northwest..if that isn't proof of the connection and effects to other parts of our eco-system, I don't know what is!

Sue G.
Sue G6 years ago

Why am I not surprised by what I've just read that, basically, humans are behind it all again and it's the poor fish who suffer again! When will these humans ever learn!

Ferdinand G.
Ferdinand G6 years ago

I'm quite sure most of farm these days are factory type (if not physically and size but in mythology and technique they use are factory oriented). Only recently we realize it destroying our mother earth and doom our self. So we start looking more friendlier method, using plants to fertilize, loosen the plant in one area (actually increase the produce because no much competition for grow), etc....

I believe it the same with fish farm, it still far from eco friendly. But shutting them down will do no much good, we have to make them become friendly one (It's will be long way)

Faith Billingham
Faith Billingham6 years ago

thank you for this article

Catherine Buchanan

the problem with 'farming' salmon is that the pens are extremely crowded so that when one fish gets sick, pretty much all of them get sick. therefore, to avoid the fish from getting sick, an antibiotic is added to the feed and also a red dye. the red dye gives that nice red color that everyone wants but the red dye i believe can also cause cancer. the virus or bacteria that infect the penned salmon live in very high concentrations so that the wild salmon living in the same water have a very high chance of becoming, too. so far, there isn't an eco friendly salmon farm. at least, i haven't heard of one. if someone has, please inform.

Holly C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you for this article - it's the first I've read about this new disease.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W6 years ago

Actually, I'm going to comment on the term "wild Atlantic salmon". As I understand it, they haven't existed since the late 60's/early '70's. They started hybridizing salmon in Norway and Sweden back then. Not quite the Frankenfish we have today, but close. Those salmon were known for their larger size and much larger appetite.
There was a Northern storm that decimated those pens, allowing all those experimental fish to escape into the wild, where it was imagined, they would simply overtake the natural species of Atlantic salmon. Naturally, most of us are not privy to this kind of information. I haven't eaten Atlantic salmon since I discovered this over a decade ago.