There is an article featuring my work on the cover of the Seattle Times today
Below is a letter sent to The Canadian Food Inspection Agency today:
Dear Nathalie Bruneau:
On May 14, 2012, I attended the CFIA meeting in Port Hardy, to inform First Nations of the CFIA surveillance initiative to "provide additional evidence to update the status of three diseases of significance in anadromous salmonid populations in BC." ISA virus is one of the three diseases of significance listed by the CFIA in this initiative. You asked First Nations to contact the CFIA if they saw evidence of the 3 viruses of concern. You informed us the ISA virus is your file.
At this meeting, I asked you what follow-up the CFIA had engaged in after receiving positive test results from an OIE reference lab for ISA virus in BC farmed salmon I bought in T & T markets in Vancouver BC earlier this year. Dr. Fred Kibenge, who runs the OIE reference lab for ISA virus, reported the HPR7b and HPR5 mutations. The owner of the supermarket chain, Loblaw, confirmed these fish had been reared in British Columbia net pens.
You responded that there has been no follow up by the CFIA to these ISA virus positive tests. I also related to you that the OIE reference lab had sequenced HPR5 from a female chum salmon in the Vedder River. The Vedder River receives water from Cultus Lake, where DFO got 100% ISAv test results in sockeye salmon, but never released those results to the Cohen Commission Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser Sockeye, nor followed up with any subsequent tests as per the testimony of Dr. Simon Jones of the Pacific Biological Station. Again you indicated there had been no follow up. I asked if there had been follow-up on the ISAv positive results produced by the DFO Miller Lab in the Creative Salmon farms at Dawley and Indian sites, again I heard you say there had been no follow by the CFIA.
Dr. Con Kiley was attending by phone and indicated that the CFIA was aware of these test results. I know the OIE lab is reporting to the CFIA.
I am writing to ask for clarification. When an OIE reference lab reports several PCR positives for virulent ISA virus mutations from a group of salmon, in this case fresh salmon for sale in one supermarket chain, on one date, in one region (the city of Vancouver) is the accepted international protocol to ignore the results?
We did discuss this briefly during the meeting and you expressed concern that I did not have chain of custody. However, when people suffer ingestion of e. coli, for example, from supermarkets the CFIA investigates despite lack of chain of custody and identifies the source of the pathogen. Documentation does accompany each shipment of BC farm salmon to the stores that would allow the CFIA to trace it to a farm and run their own tests.
In reading International Response to Infectious Salmon Anemia: Preventaion, Control and Eradication, the authors make it sound like this is a serious disease that the world wants to control.
Since the US shares marine waters with BC and BC is shipping the product fresh over the border to the US, this seems an international issue. There is also the issue of Washington State eggs travelling to Chile. Until there is follow up testing, the way things stand today a BC salmon farm or farms has or had ISA virus positive fish infected with highly virulent strains held in net pens somewhere in BC.
The Minister of Agriculture Don McRae has tabled a Bill that legal minds in BC believe will prevent me from further testing and reporting ISAv and the piscine reovirus which is highly prevalent in BC farm salmon in supermarkets. I am writing this letter today, because it may be a punishable offence in BC to write you later this week about ISA virus in salmon purchased in T & T Supermarkets in Vancouver.
So with this letter I am asking for confirmation that the CFIA is ignoring ISAv positive tests from the OIE reference lab and I would like to understand more fully why. My concern is for the wild salmon of British Columbia and perhaps I misunderstand the regulations, does the CFIA only respond to pathogens known to harm humans?