Salmon virus found in more fish

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 31 at 8:01 PM

SEATTLE -- Dr. James Winton has almost everything he needs at the U.S. Geological Survey Research Center in Seattle to study Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA). He's got plenty of disease-free salmon, state of the art testing equipment, and a staff of trained technicians. All he lacks is an isolated sample of the ISA virus.

And now, with a second positive test result from salmon in British Columbia, he wants that sample more than ever.

"This new finding in coho in the Frasier River gives us some increased concern this virus is maybe more widespread than was previously known," said Winton.

The virus was found weeks earlier in young sockeye salmon also tested in British Columbia. Now that ISA has been found in more than one species, in more than one river and in two different life stages, fish groups are alarmed.

The Wild Fish Conservancy which posted the report, which was reportedly leaked from a Canadian Government Agency, is calling for immediate and increased testing of salmon in Washington, Canada and Alaska.

ISA is blamed for wiping out entire fish farms in the past and many scientists believe it was fish farms in British Columbia that brought the virus to the Pacific in contaminated eggs.

It had not been found in Pacific salmon until these recent tests. They also warn the virus has never been successfully eliminated from infected populations.  

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