The Atlantic Veterinary College facilities. (Photo: AVC/FIS)
PEI college could lose prestigious designation after having ISA results disputed
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 05:20 (GMT + 9)
The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in Prince Edward Island (PEI) might lose a prestigious international designation after having issued results showing the presence of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) in British Columbia (BC) waters, according to Canadian media reports.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) issued a statement this week informing that it conducted an audit of a lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College and uncovered “a series of weaknesses in the system [which] have a direct impact on the quality of diagnosis conducted by AVC.”
“Conclusions of the audit were unfavourable,” the organisation said.
The audit was conducted after “different member countries” pointed to “questionable results” from the lab, according to OIE, and the conclusions of its audit will be reported to its elected governing bodies and finally, to its World Assembly of Delegates, in May 2013.
AVC’s facility is one of only two international reference laboratories that focus on ISA.
“OIE reference laboratories have a responsibility to provide high-quality disease diagnostic services as global references to all member countries of the OIE, particularly in the case of doubts or controversies about animal sample analyses,” the organisation said. “The OIE is therefore keen to maintain the highest technical and operational standards of all reference laboratories.”
AVC’s lab and the work of researcher Fred Kibenge received national attention after he conducted research on samples from BC’s sockeye salmon and found the ISA virus, which had never been seen in BC waters before. His findings were subsequently disputed by the federal government.
Environmentalists believe these may be attempts to “silence” Kibenge’s findings.
But the complaint that provoked the OIE audit was not the first against Kibenge’s work: in 2011, after his lab found ISA in two of 48 sockeye salmon smolts, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) ran its own tests and was unable to find ISA. Those results were then verified by an independent lab in Norway, The Canadian Press reports.
Paul Kitching, BC’s chief veterinary officer, announced that anyone who claimed the virus was present in BC based on results from the PEI lab, was misrepresenting the science because Kibenge’s sample size was just too small.
In December 2011, Kibenge told the Cohen Commission that after he released his findings on ISA in BC, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) audited his lab, which he believed represented an attack on his reputation and and an attempt to discredit his work.
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By Natalia Real