A potentially worrying outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) has been reported in the Nordland region of Norway.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is currently dealing with at least three suspected or confirmed cases in one of the country’s main salmon farming areas. Last Thursday it received reports of a suspected outbreak at sea site 36037 Klipen where Nova Sea AS and Tomma Laks AS operate farm sites. The findings are based on early scientific PCR analysis samples. The authority says it plans to take follow-up samples soon so that the Veterinary Institute can verify suspicions.

ISA has also been confirmed at sea site 11138 Skalsvika in Meløy municipality, where Nova Sea also has farming operations, and there has been a suspected ISA outbreak at the sea site 38517 Måvær in Lurøy municipality, where Lovundlaks farms.

Similar tests will be carried out in order to confirm or dispel earlier suspicions.  In order to limit the spread of infection, strict travel and other restrictions have been imposed on the site, including a ban on the movement of fish without a special permit.

Meanwhile, the authority says ISA has been confirmed at a research station at Gildeskal municipality in Nordland run by GIFAS, a privately owned research business. GIFAS reported its suspicions towards the end of March and follow up testing has now established that the disease is present.

ISA outbreaks – suspected or confirmed – usually mean that infected salmon cages have to be emptied and the fish destroyed. It also means the farms in question cannot export to a number of countries, most notably China.

An official inquiry into the high number of ISA cases last year is currently under way. The disease, while contagious and costly for those farms affected, is not harmful to humans.

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