Canadian scientists create rapid illness check

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Scientists testing salmon for illness or cause of death now have a new diagnostic tool other than the taking of tissue samples and days of laboratory analysis.

Researchers at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia have created a way to check for 47 known diseases against their compiled database of 51. Fish that look healthy can be checked for disease that hasn’t made them sick yet.

Conversely, “Just because you detect an agent, doesn’t mean (the fish) has a disease,” Hakai Magazine reported Kristi Miller, a salmon genetics expert at PBS, as saying.

The test is “a rapid, broad analysis of a fish’s possibility of getting sick or of passing the disease on to others”, and researchers hope to better understand the “theoretical risk” of disease between farmed and wild salmon. Miller reportedly said finding the diseases of greatest concern would mean farmed fish could be more precisely vaccinated.