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Infectious Salmon Anemia Monitoring Program

Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV) can cause a deadly disease in farm-raised Atlantic salmon. ISAV is not harmful to people.

Specific strains of the virus have killed significant numbers of farmed Atlantic salmon at sites in Maine, Eastern Canada, Chile and several European countries.

In Washington state, no signs of the disease or the virus have been documented in farmed, hatchery or wild salmon.  

ISA monitoring program in Washington

Concerns about the possibility of the virus occurring in the Pacific Northwest, prompted state, tribal and federal resource managers to start a two-year monitoring program in 2012 specifically designed to detect ISAV in salmon from Washington’s waters. As part of the program, traditional testing protocols were expanded to enhance detection of any strain of ISAV in Pacific and farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

After the first year of testing, researchers did not find ISAV in any samples taken from more than 900 wild and hatchery-produced Pacific chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and steelhead, as well as farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

The monitoring program – funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is expected to continue for at least one more year. Participants include the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tissue samples were collected from Pacific salmon from rivers in three geographic areas – the Salish Sea, Washington coast and the Columbia River. The Atlantic salmon tissue samples were collected from marine net-pens in Puget Sound. More information on the species and stock of salmon sampled during the first year of testing is available in the 2012-2013 Washington State ISAV Sampling table.     

The tissue samples taken for the ISAV monitoring program were analyzed at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pullman, and at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laboratory in Idaho.

Additional monitoring programs are under way in Alaska and Canada.

For more information on ISAV, as well as the monitoring program, check the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s fact sheet.

ISA on the West Coast

There have been no confirmed reports of ISAV in wild or farmed salmon on the West Coast. In 2011, a Canadian researcher reported detecting the virus in some British Columbia Pacific salmon. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – the Federal agency with authority for fish health in Canada – tested fish tissue samples from British Columbia using internationally approved methods and found no ISA virus present.