Deadly salmon virus raises concerns in the Northwest

Deadly salmon virus raises concerns in the Northwest
Photo courtesy of National Geographic/Paul Nicklen (via MGN Online).

SEATTLE (AP) — Scientists in Washington state are concerned about a deadly, contagious virus recently detected in wild salmon in British Columbia.

Researchers in British Columbia announced Monday they had found the influenza virus in two juvenile sockeye salmon on B.C.'s central coast, the first time in the Pacific Northwest. The virus has caused devastating losses at fish farms in Chile.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's John Kerwin on Tuesday said his agency wants to refine its testing methods to improve detection of the virus. The state tested about 56,000 fish last year and so far has not found signs of infectious salmon anemia.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist James Winton calls the news a disease emergency. He says officials on both side of the border should step up research, surveillance and testing.