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Facts about infectious pancreatic necrosis

What we know about the disease

  • disease in cultured salmonids mainly occurs in the freshwater environment
  • outbreaks are most severe in brook trout and rainbow trout
  • disease is seen in younger finfish rather than older finfish, however, older populations remain infected
  • mortality is higher when the water temperature is more than 10°C
  • disease has been reported in Atlantic salmon within months after transfer to saltwater and in some species of marine finfish under culture conditions
  • the virus is also found in wild salmonids where it is known to occur

What we would like to know about the disease

  • do the IPN virus strains that infect marine species of finfish affect salmonids

Infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) is an infectious disease of some freshwater and marine finfish. It is caused by the infectious pancreatic necrosis virus, which belongs to the family Birnaviridae.

IPN does not infect humans and is not a risk to food safety.

IPN is a reportable disease in Canada. If you own or work with finfish and suspect or detect IPN, you must let the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) know. Here's how:

Infectious pancreatic necrosis in Canada

The disease is found in most regions of Canada, including the Atlantic Ocean watershed.

However, IPN is not established in finfish populations in Prince Edward Island or in the Pacific Ocean watershed of British Columbia.

For information about where IPN occurs in Canada (infected areas, buffer areas and free areas), see declarations by province and marine areas.

For dates and locations (provinces/territories) of agency confirmed cases of the disease, see Federally reportable aquatic animal diseases in Canada.

Species of finfish that can be infected

Signs of infectious pancreatic necrosis

The disease can cause significant death rates in fry and fingerlings from 1 to 4 months of age. Atlantic salmon smolts transferred to seawater are also at risk of death, with rates increasing in infected animals 7 to 12 weeks after their transfer.

Affected finfish may exhibit any of the following external signs:

Affected finfish may exhibit any of the following internal signs:

Managing infectious pancreatic necrosis

Currently no treatments are available for IPN.

Finfish may contract the virus through contact with discharged bodily wastes or mucus secretions from infected finfish. It can also spread through water contaminated with the virus.

People can spread the virus to other finfish by moving infected live or dead finfish, by using contaminated equipment, vehicles and vessels, or by using or moving contaminated water.

You can prevent the introduction of the IPN virus into your facility and prevent the spread of the virus within your facility by using specific safety practices. You can find out more about what practices you need to consider by visiting Aquatic animal biosecurity. Talk to your veterinarian about what practices are most effective for the management of this disease in your finfish.

There is no vaccine approved in Canada against IPN. Talk to your veterinarian about whether a vaccine approved in another country can be an effective tool to manage this disease.

In areas where IPN is known to occur, you may also need to consider additional practices that are required by your provincial IPN control program.

CFIA's initial response to a notification

When you notify a CFIA veterinary inspector of the possible presence of IPN in your finfish, we will launch an investigation, which could include an inspection of your facility.

We will note all relevant information you can provide, such as species affected, life stage affected, signs of illness in the animals, presence of any other diseases and water temperature.

At the same time, we will collect samples for testing at one of Canada's three National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratories.

We may issue movement controls on the animals and equipment, including vehicles and vessels. Movement controls are always issued immediately if the farm is in an area where IPN is not known to occur.

We evaluate all the collected information and test results to confirm the presence of IPN in your facility.

The agency also confirms the presence of IPN in wild finfish. The agency receives notifications from provincial and federal staff who have investigated a wild fish death event.

CFIA's response once the disease is confirmed

Further disease response measures will either eradicate IPN from your facility or geographically contain the disease. Response measures are also determined by whether your facility is located in an area where the disease occurs or is not known to occur. Aquatic animal disease investigation and response provides information about CFIA's response. Although each disease investigation and response situation is different, the steps involved are often similar.

How do I get more information

For more information about reportable diseases, visit the Aquatic Animal Health page, contact your local CFIA Animal Health Office, or your CFIA Area office:

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