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Scientific experts say the fish virus is a low risk for Fraser River – The Columbia Valley Pioneer

The risk is minimal for a potentially lethal virus for the British Columbia Fraser River sockeye salmon, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada says there is still a lot to learn.

The federal government scientists were among the 33 members of a peer review panel that examined data and risk assessment of orthoreovirus pools, or PRVs.

The virus is highly contagious and is often found in fish farms off the coast of the B.C. coast, many of which are positioned along the migration routes of wild salmon.

According to the environmental group Ecojustice, the PRV was discovered in 2010 and is thought to cause a serious infectious disease of fish known as inflammation of the heart and skeletal muscles.

It is an infectious disease syndrome that was first observed in Atlantic salmon at a fish farm in Norway in 1999. Now there are 419 farms infected with the disease in Norway, said Ecojustice .

Gilles Olivier, who co-chaired the magazine for fisheries and oceans in Canada, said that knowledge gaps in the virus include how long it survives and its concentration in water.

While the virus is causing fish mortality in Norway, it is not killing British Columbia's sockeye or Atlantic salmon even when it is injected in high doses, Olivier said in a conference call with journalists on Thursday.

"It does not seem to have the same effect in our Atlantic salmon here in B.C. than it does in Norway," he said.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the PRV causes illness and mortality in Sockeye salmon".

But the virus can not be grown and has a wide geographical distribution ranging from Alaska to B.C. and in the state of Washington, Olivier said.

"It is not easy to work with this virus".

Most of the data comes from Norway, but in B.C. the virus strain is not so strong, he said.

Dr. Craig Stephen, who also co-chaired the magazine, said the research will continue and as more information becomes available, the department will consider this aspect.

Cohen's commission investigated the 2009 collapse of Sockeye salmon in the Fraser River and made 75 recommendations.

The viral risk assessment represents the sixth of a series of 10 evaluations deriving from the commission's recommendations.

The Canadian press

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