Atlantic Salmon Disease Gets a new Simple Diagnostic Test

By Dane Lorica, | December 04, 2016

The Atlantic salmon disease causes losses amounting to millions on the aquaculture industry yearly. (Melissa Doroquez/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Atlantic salmon disease causes losses amounting to millions on the aquaculture industry yearly. (Melissa Doroquez/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Researchers from the University of Glasgow in collaboration with BioMar Ltd and Marine Harvest Ltd have developed a simple diagnostic test for the costly Atlantic Salmon disease potentially saving millions for the aquaculture industry.

The team revealed that just by using simple measurement procedure, the viral disease could be diagnosed. According to their data, blood protein level is altered by the pancreatic disease and can be monitored through a selective precipitation reaction (SPR), an early diagnostic test patented by the researchers.

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The current diagnostic test is carried out by laboratories, and it usually takes a couple of days before the release of the result. 

Dr. Mark Braceland of the Center for Aquaculture Technologies said that the aquaculture industry is challenged by the difficulty of monitoring healthy stocks. He added that "marine aquaculture is very unique and relatively new form of livestock culture, and as such, diagnostic and prognostic tools available for this industry are lacking."

Although the effect of the salmonid alpha virus in the pancreas of the fish does not pose any threat to human health, it has a negative impact on the industry due to reduced production predisposed by high morbidity and mortality. In a study conducted by Aunsmo in 2012, it was revealed that approximately 1.43 million Euros is lost by a single fish farm due to pancreatic diseases.

Professor David Eckersall of the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health, and Comparative Medicine said that "this collaborative study, funded by a BBSRC CASE Ph.D. studentship for our colleague Mark Braceland and supported by the aquaculture industry, has made a major contribution to the health and welfare of salmon. If this SPR test can be applied to other diseases and species of fish, then the benefit will be even greater. This is an excellent example of the benefit of academia-industry links supported by the BBSRC CASE studentship scheme."

A representative from the industry, Dr. Dave Cockerill of Marine Harvest, applauded the discovery saying that "SPR gives us an opportunity to put in place an early warning system for detection of significant pathology in fish."

The study about the new diagnostic test for Atlantic salmon disease was published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

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