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ISA Test Results Questioned by International Body


CANADA - News that the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has concerns with one of its designated Canadian reference labs shows the importance of due scientific process and caution in interpreting and reporting test results.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said audits of the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) lab in PEI, selected and designated by the OIE as a reference lab for Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), showed that a series of weaknesses in the system have a direct impact on the quality of diagnosis conducted by AVC.

To read the OIE release, click here.

In October 2011, a press release from Simon Fraser University announced that two wild Pacific salmon had tested positive for ISA at the AVC laboratory accredited by the OIE. The news was a significant concern to Canada's salmon farmers, whose fish are particularly vulnerable to this virus and disease. These lab results also resulted in the re-opening of additional hearings by the Cohen Commission into the Decline of the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon.

Anti-farm campaigners made unfounded suggestions that it was the practices that had imported the virus, despite the unconfirmed results and no real evidence to suggest this was the case. Repeated testing could not confirm the results and there continues to be no evidence suggesting ISA actually is in BC waters.

The OIEs investigation is the result of different member countries comments regarding the questionable results. While the BCSFA has contacted the University of PEI and AVC regarding the misrepresentation of test results by campaigners in the public, the British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association state that their farmers have had no role in the OIE investigation.

They claim their farmers remain confident in the health of their fish and continue with ongoing monitoring and sampling programs. In light of this update, the members wanted to reiterate a few important points made last fall:

  • BCs salmon farmers have tested their fish for ISA since 2002 with over 5,000 tests completed with negative results. ISA has never been found on BCs farms, and has never been confirmed on the BC coast.

  • Extensive egg importation regulations were implemented years ago and experts at the Cohen Commission testified these were strong and proactive measures.

  • All follow-up testing of the SFU samples came back negative: no lab was able to replicate the questionable results found by AVC.