Salmon virus alarming

June 4, 2012 

Owners of a commercial salmon farm near the southern tip of Bainbridge Island must destroy its entire stock of net pen-raised Atlantic salmon due to discovery of a deadly fish virus there.

It marks the first time the influenza-like virus called infectious hematopoietic necrosis has been detected in state waters.

This is an ominous turn of events that should put federal and state fisheries officials on high alert to make sure the virus doesn’t spread into wild salmon stocks here in Puget Sound.

The IHN virus doesn’t harm humans.

It does occur naturally in wild sockeye salmon and can be passed on to other fish.

The major concern is that an outbreak of the virus at a commercial salmon farm could amplify the spread of the infection and put wild salmon passing near an infected net pen at greater risk.

The salmon farming industry has its hands full, both in curbing the spread of the virus and assuring fisheries managers and consumers alike that they can maintain good husbandry of their farms.

At the very least the discovery of IHN in state waters should trigger increased monitoring and testing of salmon net pens in the region.

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