Agriculture, Food Board: IHN virus of fish spreading in Nordic countries may reach Estonia

  • 2021-05-30
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) virus of fish has been diagnosed in the Nordic countries; in order to prevent the disease from reaching Estonia, the Agriculture and Food Board recommends that fish farmers make sure the source farm they buy their fish eggs and live fish from is disease-free.

IHN is a widespread viral disease that occurs in salmonid fish, such as trout and salmon, worldwide, mostly affecting juvenile salmonids, the Agriculture and Food Board said. The virus infects fish of all ages and they remain carriers of the virus. The disease does not pose a threat to humans or other animals, but causes great economic damage.

A diseased fish cannot be treated. To get rid of the disease, the fish of the whole farm must be killed and the farm must be disinfected. The farm is then left empty for a while.

Olev Kalda, head of the department for animal health and animal welfare at the Estonian Agriculture and Food Board, said that fish farmers must be especially careful that the disease does not reach Estonia and spread here.

"In order to reduce the risk of the spread of fish diseases, general biosecurity measures in fish farms must be followed and implemented. It is important to monitor the movement of means of transport and personnel within the territory of the farm, to restrict unauthorized persons from entering the territory and production facilities, and to apply general cleaning, washing and disinfection procedures to workers, tools and means of transport," Kalda said.

The Agriculture and Food Board carries out surveillance on fish farms and, if necessary, takes samples for the detection of fish diseases.

In Estonia, IHN was diagnosed for the first time in two fish farms in 2018 -- in Jarva County and West-Viru County. Currently, disease control restrictions apply to one company.