SEATTLE – Canadian government officials said Tuesday they have found no signs of a potentially deadly, infectious salmon virus in British Columbia.
Researchers with Simon Fraser University in British Columbia announced last month they had detected infectious salmon anemia, or ISA, in two wild juvenile Pacific salmon collected from the province’s central coast, prompting fears the influenza-like virus could wreck the salmon fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest.
“There’s no evidence that (the virus) occurs in fish off the waters of British Columbia,” Dr. Cornelius Kiley, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said Tuesday, announcing results from the government investigation.
Government tests of the original 48 samples collected from B.C. researchers at a national laboratory have turned up negative for the virus, Canadian officials said. Additional tests performed on other samples have also turned up negative, because the quality of some of those samples was too degraded to be conclusive.
The results are consistent with independent testing conducted by a lab in Norway, officials said. While that lab found one weak positive reading among multiple tests, it also noted the sample was poor and results could not be reproduced, said Peter Wright, national manager for the Research and Diagnostic Laboratory System with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Officials are continuing to test samples for the salmon virus, which has affected Atlantic salmon fish farms in Chile, Maine, New Brunswick and other areas. It does not affect humans.
The virus was initially detected in two of 48 juvenile sockeye salmon collected as part of a long-term study of sockeye salmon led by Rick Routledge, a researcher with Simon Fraser University. Fred Kibenge of the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island confirmed the presence of the virus in two fish.
The report that the virus had been detected in wild Pacific salmon for the first time on the West Coast prompted concern by state and federal officials in the U.S.
Washington state officials have been working in recent weeks with U.S. agencies, tribes and Alaska state officials on a plan to sample additional fish for the virus.