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Tasmania: No Signs of Abalone Virus...So Far

AUSTRALIA - Laboratory examination of tissue samples from about 60 wild abalone taken from an area of interest off the southern Channel has revealed no evidence of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis.

DNA tests for the virus in these fish by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong will be available early next week.

The General Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity, Alex Schaap, cautioned against reading too much into the negative histological (tissue) analysis.

“I have to point out that two of the abalone in the infected processing facility which tested DNA-positive for AVG were negative when examined microscopically,” Mr Schaap said.

“It is obviously pleasing that close examination of these wild fish reveals no apparent evidence of ganglioneuritis, but they are from only one block of seabed and DNA-based testing is yet to be received.”

Mr Schaap said that further samples of abalone are being collected from a number of processors today, from commercial divers and a team is standing by to dive at a particular location of interest off the East Coast when conditions at that site permit.

“At the moment, all scenarios remain open from an incursion of AVG into Tasmania to the virus being endemic here.

“As well as freshly collected samples, we have a store of about 500 samples which were collected from the wild since we have been on alert for the disease. These were collected over the past two years in anticipation of a DNA-based test for the virus being developed.

“A selection of these will be taken from storage for DNA-based testing to provide an important historical perspective against which we can compare fresh evidence.

“It remains very early days. It is going to take some time to piece the situation together with scientific certainty and firm-up answers.”

Mr Schaap said that reports from commercial divers operating in widespread areas of the fishery continue to reveal nothing unusual with abalone numbers or behaviour.

Recreational abalone fishers are reminded to consult the Recreational Sea Fishing Guide for advice on good biosecurity practice.

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Ellen Hardy

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