Federal official are working to confirm reports that a potentially devastating salmon virus has been detected in West Coast wild salmon stocks
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is investigating recent reports that infectious salmon anaemia has been detected in wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia," said a statement issued by federal officials on Friday morning.
Simon Fraser University Prof. Rick Routledge announced earlier this week the highly infectious virus had been detected in two wild sockeye smolts collected on B.C.'s central coast
Federal official say they are now working closely with the Atlantic Veterinary College, which conducted initial testing for Routledge, to confirm the results.
"If the disease is confirmed through this analysis, the CFIA will, in consultation with partners and stakeholders, identify and take appropriate next steps," said the statement.
"In Canada, infectious salmon anaemia is a 'federally reportable disease.' This means that all suspected cases of the disease must be immediately reported to the CFIA. The disease poses no risk to people."
Alexandra Morton, a biologist and longtime critic of salmon farms, says the European strain of the virus could only have come from the farmed Atlantic salmon in the area, and it could have a devastating impact on the province's wild salmon and herring.
But experts point out the source of the virus remains unproven, and the disease has never been detected in farmed salmon stocks on the West Coast.