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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The salmon virus can have devastating consequences for the salmon industry, but quick action and collaboration between authorities and the industry is likely to prevent an outbreak. PHOTO: THOMAS BJØRKAN.

The salmon virus can have devastating consequences for the industry, but is of no danger for humans.

The Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) virus was detected by the Faroese veterinary authorities last night at one farming site belonging to the islands' largest salmon producer Bakkafrost. 
At the same time, but across the Norwegian sea, the ISA virus was also detected at a farming site in Vestvågsøy, Lofotposten reported last night.
Although the virus has been found in both places, there are no signs of a disease outbreak. 

Devastating consequences

The ISA virus brought the Faroese salmon industry to its knees in the early 2000s, wiping out most of the salmon population. After the hit, the industry managed to get back on its feet and farmed salmon is now the most important export good from the Faroe Islands.
Norway has also had to cope with the effects of the disease, both in the late 1980s and again in the early 2000s. 
The virus attacks the salmon's red blood cells and causes severe anaemia, often leaving the salmon to die of various related causes.
Despite dire consequences the ISA virus can have on salmon, it does not affect any other animals, including humans.

Preventive measures 

The protocol in cases of such virus detections for both the Faroes and Norway are similar.
Quick action is likely to prevent a severe outbreak of the disease, and authorities are now isolating the farming sites and any sites within relative vicinity, the Faroese Chief Veterinarian said in a statement
The same procedures are taking place in Lofoten. Because the fish at this point carry no signs of disease, they will be harvested and exported. 
It usually takes a number of weeks from the disease first breaks out until it spreads to other farming sites, so quick action in the early stages is critical.
Although the virus has been detected early on and the likelihood of preventing an outbreak of the disease is high, the Bakkafrost shares on the Oslo Stock Exchange have fallen by more than five percent this morning.


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