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International Co-operation to Further Knowledge and Understanding of Salmonid Alphaviruses

SCOTLAND - Two years ago an international group of key salmon industry people and scientists from Ireland, France, Norway and Scotland was set up to speedily advance and address the gaps in our knowledge of pancreas disease (PD) and related pathologies.

PD has re-emerged in recent years as a serious economic cost, both in terms of mortality and growth loss, within the European salmon industry. Sleeping disease (SD), a closely related alphavirus, is now present in France, Italy, Spain and the UK and is causing significant losses in the rainbow trout industry. In the two years the group has met six times, the most recent meeting being hosted by the Fisheries Research Laboratory in Aberdeen in April 2007.

Schematic diagram of an alphavirus
Over fifty people from various countries participated in this latest round of information exchange and project development discussions.

This initiative is quite unique in that it has succeeded in bringing together previously competing groups to focus on how they can learn from the past and forge new productive alliances to combat the losses caused by PD and related pathologies. Several new projects have been agreed and, while financed at an individual country level, there has been significant international co-operation and input. Some projects have already been completed and results published, some of which are cited in the scientific summaries section of this newsletter and many more interesting articles are in the pipeline. The group are going to make a concerted effort to acquire EU funding so that this important work can be progressed as quickly as possible. A special issue of the Journal of Fish Diseases to be published this Autumn will contain a review of salmonid alphaviruses and a number of related papers. The co-ordinators of this project are Gordon Ritchie and Neil Ruane.

the Fish Site Editor

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