Pancreas disease can cause significant loss to Atlantic salmon producers. (Photo: Odin Hjellestad/Copyright: FIS)
New test favours early detection of Atlantic salmon disease
Friday, December 02, 2016, 00:20 (GMT + 9)
Scientists from the University of Glasgow have discovered a ‘simple test’ to detect Atlantic salmon infected with salmonid alpha virus, causing pancreas disease, which they ensure can help the aquaculture industry save millions.
Although the disease does not represent a problem for the product consumption and is harmless to human beings, it can cause relevant losses to Atlantic salmon farmers due to morbidity, mortality and reduced production.
These researchers, who worked with the firms BioMar Ltd and Marine Harvest Ltd. (Scotland), found that salmon affected with this disease had a major change in the proteins present in the blood, and further to that, that these protein changes could be detected using a simple procedure.
The test, called a selective precipitation reaction (SPR), has been patented by the team and could potentially be developed into a rapid analysis system allowing the disease to be diagnosed much earlier than is currently possible.
This finding would mean that the test could be applied at a fish farm, allowing for quick diagnosis of the disease and early treatment while current testing requires sample submissions being sent to laboratories, a process that can take several days before results are available.
“The serendipitous discovery of the SPR has allowed a potentially powerful diagnostic test to be developed that could have significant applications in the future,” pointed out Professor David Eckersall, Professor of Veterinary Biochemistry and leader of the research team at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine.
In his view, if this SPR test can be applied to other diseases and species of fish then the benefit will be even greater.
Official data shows that pancreas disease can cause a loss of up to GBP 1.43 million for a single fish farm, so early detection is a vital component of the health care of salmon in aquaculture.
“The SPR has some great potential in complementing pathogen screening by allowing the industry to identify clinical stages of disease process, thus giving valuable information for health practitioners. I also see it as a valuable tool for establishing the efficacy of treatment and disease prevention technologies and hope it shall be utilized in this way in the future,” stressed Dr Mark Braceland, who now is in Prince Edward Island (Canada) at the Center for Aquaculture Technologies.
The study findings are published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.