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Workshop: ISA research



Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) continues to pose a significant challenge to the salmon farming industry in New Brunswick. A key element of the effective prevention and management of ISA is a sound understanding of the disease and how it interacts with fish populations and the environment. The purpose of this workshop is to bring the key stakeholder groups together - industry, fish health professionals, funding agencies, regulators and researchers - to identify and prioritize specific research needs with regard to ISA. This workshop with also serve to bring key stakeholders up to date on what research is presently available, what research is ongoing and what research is needed.

The need to have a critical review and analysis of the existing ISA management strategies was repeatedly emphasized during the workshop. Although this point received much support, it was decided that this workshop was not the venue to decide how this was to be addressed. A communication plan to disseminate new ISA research information amongst the research community, industry, veterinarians, government and other stakeholders was identified as a critical component of an effective research program. Various means discussed included the re-establishment of an ISA Research Committee, a literature compilation and the development of a web-based source for ISA research communications. But, again it was agreed that such a plan was outside the scope of the workshop. A recurring theme throughout the workshop was the need for an effective database to facilitate ISA research in a variety of areas. Such a database would not only benefit ISA research, but research in many other areas.

The ISA research priorities identified were classified in three areas: epidemiology/risk management, diagnostic testing, ISA vaccine development/evaluation.

Within epidemiology/risk management, studies related to viral transmission to determine primary modes of ISAV transmission under production conditions would provide critical management information to key stakeholders; ISAV infection prevalence studies in various populations at risk, including outbreak cages, low mortality cages at positive sites and cages at undetected sites/areas would provide information about transmission and allow for a better decision-making with regard to depopulation and other management strategies as well as provide information about the relative success of the containment of virus for a given management and control strategy; risk factor studies by reviewing data collected by farms regarding environmental, husbandry, and host factors and associations with outbreak cages, with and without elevated mortality; ISA virus strain studies to identify if known NB strains of ISAV differ in virulence; environmental persistence studies to determine the infective potential of ISAV under various environmental conditions; pathogenesis studies to characterize the infective dose of ISA for farmed Atlantic salmon and the stages of disease progression within individual fish; sea lice management studies as it related to ISA control policies, including studies involving therapeutant withdrawal times; economic evaluation of ISA management options as the impact is unknown at this time.

Within diagnostic testing, the continuation of the prospective investigation of diagnostic test interpretation and the development of rapid, on-site methods; strain detection studies to differentiate ISAV strains within NB; use of quantitative PCR to monitor levels of ISA in a cage or site, could perhaps serve as a predictive tool.

Within ISA Vaccine development/evaluation, studies related to vaccine efficacy; vaccine clinical field trials; response to vaccination studies - what are the results of various differences in vaccine application (water temperature at time of vaccination, degree days required etc.).

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2003 - 2003



Principal Investigator(s)

Gilles Olivier

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