NORWAY - Controlled infection experiments by Nofima have shown that lumpfish, which are used to treat sea lice on salmon, can be a reservoir for the infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) virus.
As lumpfish and salmon often live side by side, there is thus a potential for disease transmission.
Lumpfish as a biological control method against lice have shown promising results and therefore commercial production has increased significantly in Norway.
Need for more knowledge
"But the need to know more about the species is large. We generally have limited knowledge when it comes what is optimal production conditions for fish, its ability to eat lice, behavior and health," says fish health researcher Mette Wesmajervi Breiland, Nofima.
Ms Breiland participates in a research team that operates systematic competence, especially in mapping and combating diseases.
"Challenge models are important tools for the future health of fish. Therefore we have started our work to develop models for relevant pathogens in a research project funded by MABIT, which focuses on lumpfish as cleaner fish under northern Norwegian conditions," continued Ms Breiland.
While researchers do not yet have an adequate overview of lumpfish susceptibility to various diseases, Vibriosis has proved to be a frequent cause of loss. So it was natural for us to start our work with this bacterium, said Ms Breiland.
Risk of infection spreading
Viral diseases have not yet been detected in lumpfish. But potentially the species could still be a reservoir viruses, which causes the risk of spreading to other species.
A very suitable candidate in this context is the IPN virus that has a wide host range and causes disease problems in many species, including salmon.
The study found that the virus survives over time in roe and is transferred to fish via water, said Ms Breiland.
This means that lumpfish can be a reservoir for the IPN virus and that by coexistence of lumpfish and salmon it is a potential for disease transmission.
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TheFishSite News Desk