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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Risk factors for outbreaks of infectious salmon anemia in farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar.

Infectious salmon anemia (ISA) is a viral disease occurring in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) that is characterized by lethargy, anorexia, anemia and death. To control the disease in New Brunswick, Canada, 7.5 million fish from outbreak cages have been destroyed since 1997. Despite changes made by farmers, 2002 was the worst year ever for ISA losses in the region. We evaluated the associations between potential risk factors and ISA outbreaks in the Atlantic-salmon sites in New Brunswick. This was a multilevel study in which the site-level design was a retrospective cohort study while the cage-level design was a modified case-cohort study. The questionnaire was divided into site-level questions, cage-level questions and hatchery information. The important factors identified by this study can be categorized as environmental, farmer controlled or industry controlled according to the capacity to change or eliminate them. Environmental risk factors such as increasing the depth of the net (if nets were <or=9 m, odds ratio (OR)=3.34) and decreasing the depth of water underneath the net (if depth of water underneath the net >3m, OR=3.34) are for the most part dictated by site location. Wild pollock (Pollachius virens) in the cage reflects the number of wild pollock that live in the site location. If there were >or=1000 pollock in the cage, the odds of disease in the cage increased 4.43-fold. Risk factors that are under farm control include increasing the number of times that the salmon are treated for sea lice (OR=3.31 if lice treatments are <or=2 times), transferring small smolts into seawater (OR=2.40 if smolts weighed >99 g) and improving on the adaptation of smolts to seawater to reduce post-transfer mortalities (OR=4.52 if there was at least one cage with post-transfer mortalities >5%). The industry-controlled factors need to be addressed by the industry as a whole. Organizing boat travel to minimize the time and frequency of boats travelling to or by sites currently is being reviewed. This will be extremely important because the OR=9.43 if processing boats travel within 1 km of the site and the OR=4.03 if the site has dry feed delivered by the feed company. Because the hazard ratio increased stepwise from 1 if the nearest neighbor with ISA was >or=5 km up to 5.5 if the nearest site with ISA was within 0.5 km, increasing the distance between sites might be necessary for effective control.[1]


  1. Risk factors for outbreaks of infectious salmon anemia in farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. McClure, C.A., Hammell, K.L., Dohoo, I.R. Prev. Vet. Med. (2005) [Pubmed]
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