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Estimating the potential for waterborne transmission of infectious hematopoietic necrosis (IHN) disease between salmon farms and wild sockeye in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia



In British Columbia infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is responsible for major economic losses in salmon aquaculture operations. Recent research has characterized viral transmission parameters associated with IHN disease in Atlantic Salmon aquaculture that, when coupled to an oceanographic circulation model for the Discovery Islands region, provides estimates as to whether the waterborne transport of IHNV arising from a disease outbreak within the Discovery Islands could infect neighbouring farms.

This project will extend this research to quantify the transmission potential of IHN disease between farms and wild Sockeye Salmon. More specifically, it will determine the susceptibility of saltwater phase Sockeye Salmon (for various ages and stocks) to IHN disease and use these estimates in a viral dispersion and disease transmission model. Moreover the capacity of vaccinated Atlantic Salmon and IHNV-carrying Sockeye Salmon smolts to transmit the virus to naïve hosts (ones who have never before been infected) will be determined.

Results from this study will provide further tools to manage and monitor for the IHN virus, and provide critical information to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to help ensure the protection of farmed and wild fish health by determining optimal locations for aquaculture sites.

This project supports the optimal fish health management and environmental performance objectives of the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), and pertains to two of the 2013-14 national ACRDP priorities : 1) to manage and control pests and pathogens through the understanding of how pests and pathogens can affect the environment and cultured species, and how to manage their impact; and 2) to increasing the understanding of the interactions between farmed finfish species and wild species.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2013 - 2015


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Kyle Garver

Collaborative Partner(s)

Marine Harvest Canada

Mainstream Canada

Grieg Seafood

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