British Columbia is poised to be designated ISA virus positive. A few weeks ago the Office of International Epizootics, OIE, changed the definition of an ISA virus positive region.
Instead of having to diagnose the disease, today detection of any strain of the virus is enough to designate a region as ISA virus positive. This is the difference between a person being HIV positive, or having AIDS.
This change means a place like BC, could move fast enough to stop a full-blown epidemic. The ISA virus has been detected by the North American OIE reference lab for ISA and two other labs. DFO got positive ISA test results in 2004, but hid them. Now the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency may be causing a dangerous delay, risking wild salmon of the North Pacific.
The Globe and Mail reports today that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has written to the Office of International Epizootics (OIE) asking that the Kibenge Lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College, PEI be stripped of its standing as one of only 2 ISA virus reference labs. The second lab is with the Norwegian government.
There are 169 comments, over 2,00 shares and facebook posts in response to this article! Here is one:
"Good on you Mr. Kibenge. As a fellow scientist I have witnessed first hand the sweeping layoffs targeting the PC (physical scientist) designation in government.
It is our responsibility to stand up for the safety and values of Canadians regardless of what the current regimes mandate is."
ISA virus is in the influenza family. If it is in BC it is absolutely essential that it be stopped from spreading, because it appears to be European. This means the wild fish of the North Pacific may not have enough immunity to it.
It was Dr. Kibenge who accurately diagnosed ISA virus for the first time ever in Chile. That virus exploded within weeks of his diagnosis to cause $2 billion in damages, to the Chilean salmon farming industry. Chile, however, had no wild salmon to lose. For BC the stakes are even higher. No one knows what this virus will do to wild Pacific salmon if it is left to spread - NO ONE.
Could the CFIA just be engaging in due diligence? Perhaps, but there are extenuating circumstances.
When the OIE applies their ISAv designation upgrade to British Columbia by accepting the results from their lab British Columbia's status would have to be altered from ISAv-free to ISAv-positive.
The CFIA testified under oath at the Cohen Commission in December 2011 that if the ISA virus is confirmed in BC, BC farm salmon trade could cease. The Provincial Minister of Agriculture echoed this stating in the BC legislature that US and Asian lawmakers were pushing to close their borders to BC farm salmon as a result of the first ISA virus positive test results from Dr. Kibenge's Lab. One has to ask if this is why the CFIA is trying to disconnect Dr. Kibenge's lab from the OIE?
If the CFIA is successful, they will destroy any hope of a fast response. The research will continue, but we will be at the mercy of this virus, giving it the opportunity to do what it does best - Go Viral
The directive to protect wild salmon has to come from us, because there is no one else who can do this. This is a very ominous development.
Dr. Kibenge will speak about this tonight on CBC "As it Happens".
1. The OIE removed "whole eviscerated fish" from the list of products that can be imported without risk analysis from and ISAv positive region
2. They changed the definition of "ISA - free" from: ISA disease to "detectable" ISA virus
September 2012 revised recommendations:
There is no mention in the original document of detectable ISA virus - they only refer to the disease. It is the difference between HIV positive and AIDS.