DAO 72:213-223 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao072213

Infectious haematopoietic necrosis epidemic (2001 to 2003) in farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in British Columbia

S. M. Saksida*

Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, Box 277, Campbell River, British Columbia V9W 5B1, Canada

ABSTRACT: I investigated a recent infectious haematopoietic necrosis disease (IHN) epidemic in farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in British Columbia (BC), Canada. All companies with infected farms (n = 36) participated in the study. Over 12 million Atlantic salmon on infected farms died or were culled during the epidemic with cumulative mortality on the farms averaging 58%. The first reported case of IHN occurred in August 2001 and the last outbreak in June 2003. Outbreaks on the farms lasted between 20 and 22 wk. Genetic sequencing by other researchers, revealed that 2 different IHN isolates contributed to this epidemic, one linked to all cases in 4 areas, the other associated with all cases in a fifth area. Spatial and temporal patterns of the farm outbreaks were examined to determine possible methods of spread between the farms. Evidence presented herein appears to show that farming practices themselves contributed significantly to the spread between farms both within and between areas. Natural waterborne transmission may have played a role in the spread of the virus between farms located in close proximity to each other. The data collected from this epidemic are compared with reports which examined the first reported epidemic in Atlantic salmon in BC (1992 to 1996). Evidence is presented for the hypothesis that wild fish species may have been the source of introduction of the virus into the farmed Atlantic salmon population.

KEY WORDS: Infectious haematopoietic necrosis · IHN · Atlantic salmon · Risk factors

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