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Farmed tilapia. (Copyright: FIS)

Tilapia virus detected in aquaculture farms in six states

  (MEXICO, 7/30/2018)

The National Service of Health, Safety and Agri-Food Quality (SENASICA) reported that the presence of the tilapia lake virus (TiLV) has been detected in Aquaculture Production Units (APUs) located in six Mexican states.

The virus was identified in samples obtained in the affected farms, which were analyzed in laboratories of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) by molecular biology techniques.

This pathogen was first described in Israel in 2014 and its presence is reported in some countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America. In Mexico, it has been detected so far in aquaculture farms in Chiapas, Jalisco, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tabasco and Veracruz.

The TiLV does not represent any risk to human health. This virus affects mainly tilapia fry in eyes, brain and liver, since in juvenile organisms and adults the affectation is less frequent.

Given that tilapia constitute the second group of farmed fish of greater relevance worldwide, SENASICA calls on producers to raise the levels of biosafety in their APUs and to take preventive measures.

The federal agency is continuing the investigation in order to contain the spread of the virus and encourages producers to immediately report any suspicion of illness or high mortality to the health authority. The purpose is to carry out the corresponding epidemiological investigation and, where appropriate, to apply timely sanitary measures to avoid losses to national aquaculture.

Also, in order to protect the national production of tilapia, SENASICA recommends farmers should apply the Good Production Practices, which include measures such as cleaning and disinfection of the ponds; sanitary disposal of waste, laboratory analysis to verify water conditions and the use of products regulated by SAGARPA.

Producers must ensure that the organisms they use for their crops come from certified units. In addition, they are recommended to implement quarantine measures to the new populations and not to overload the ponds.

SENASICA also considers it necessary to reinforce the biosafety measures in the affected APUs, which implies washing and disinfecting all vehicles and means of transport that enter, prohibit the entry to outsiders and avoid moving organisms with suspected disease, among tanks or production units.

In the same way, it recommends that the personnel work with exclusive clothing for the development of their activity and that the water resulting from the replacement of the ponds be treated; and that garbage, organic waste and fish are disposed of in a sanitary manner, in accordance with established protocols.

On the other hand, in order to protect Mexican producers and favour consumers with sufficient supply of a highly nutritious, healthy and safe food, SAGARPA dependent body has strengthened the sanitary inspection of tilapia imports and its products.

Additionally, it has established collaboration mechanisms with research institutions in order to monitor the presence of diseases that could put aquaculture production at risk.

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