A Simon Fraser University fish-population statistician, working in collaboration with non-government organization scientists, has uncovered evidence of a potentially deadly virus in a freshwater sport fish in B.C.
SFU professor Rick Routledge and Stan Proboszcz, a fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, have found evidence of the piscine reovirus (PRV) in cutthroat trout caught in Cultus Lake, in the Fraser Valley region of B.C.
Tests conducted by, Fred Kibenge, a virology professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, found evidence of the virus in 13 of 15 sampled fish. Follow-up analyses further confirmed the virus's presence in these fish and identified their genetic sequencing as 99 per cent identical to Norwegian strains.
The virus has been scientifically linked to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), a disease that has reportedly become widespread in Norwegian salmon farms and can kill up to 20 per cent of infected fish.
Routledge believes this first ever discovery of PRV in a B.C. freshwater sport fish indicates the virus could be prevalent in B.C.
Many Canadian scientists and interest groups are concerned that B.C. salmon farms pose a serious risk to wild Pacific salmon. Scientists in other countries have specifically raised concerns about the spread of PRV from farms to wild salmon.
"If PRV has been found in a Cultus Lake sport fish it could be contributing to the failure of the lake's sockeye population to return in abundance," says Routledge.
He notes the federal government-mandated Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has listed the species as endangered.
"The discovery of PRV in Cultus Lake's cutthroat trout also begs the question is it in other related species in the lake, such as rainbow trout, kokanee and Dolly Varden? This latest discovery could also mean that salmon and trout in any lake exposed to
|Contact: Carol Thorbes|
Simon Fraser University