A third Pacific salmon has been found with infectious salmon anemia. Until the recent finding of two wild Pacific salmon with infectious salmon anemia, the virus has only been found in the Atlantic Ocean, where it originated, and in Atlantic salmon being farmed in the Pacific Ocean.
Infectious salmon anemia is caused by a virus native to the Atlantic Ocean. The virus mutated in the crowded conditions of salmon farms to become lethal and very contagious. There is no cure for it, once a fish is infected, and the virus can be passed from fish to fish through the water or on equipment that has come into contact with the virus.
In 2008, Chile’s salmon farming industry lost over $2 billion to infectious salmon anemia.
So far, fish from the salmon farms on the Pacific coast of North America have not tested positive for the virus. Nearly five thousand farmed salmon have been tested since 2003 – out of tens of millions of salmon farmed in that time.
If the virus has moved to wild populations of Pacific salmon, it has the potential to destroy the native salmon fisheries and upset the balance of the Pacific ecology.
Image by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region, used with Creative Commons license.