White Sturgeon Iridoviral Disease - Fact Sheet
What is white sturgeon iridoviral disease?
White sturgeon iridoviral disease is an infectious disease of finfish. It is caused by the white sturgeon iridovirus, a member of the family Iridovirus.
What species of finfish can be infected by white sturgeon iridovirus?
Each species of finfish may have several common names, but only one common name is listed.
Species susceptible to white sturgeon iridoviral disease that that occur in the natural environment in Canada:
- Acipenser fulvescens* (lake sturgeon*)
- Acipenser transmontanus (white sturgeon)
Note: Species identified with an asterisk have not been confirmed as susceptible to white sturgeon iridovirus disease.
Is white sturgeon iridoviral disease a risk to human health?
No. The causal agent of white sturgeon iridoviral disease is not a risk to human health.
What are the signs of white sturgeon iridoviral disease?
White sturgeon iridoviral disease is a cause of death in the post-hatch life stages of susceptible sturgeon species, with overall deaths reaching 95 percent in fish under one year of age.
Affected finfish may exhibit any of the following signs:
- erratic and slow swimming
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- reddening on the rows of bony protective plates along the belly
- swollen and slightly pale gills
Is white sturgeon iridovirus disease found in Canada?
The disease was historically suspected to occur in Canada but its presence has never been confirmed.
How is white sturgeon iridovirus disease spread?
White sturgeon iridovirus disease is spread between finfish by
- contaminated water, and
- contaminated equipment.
People can spread the disease by moving any of the following:
- infected live or dead finfish,
- contaminated equipment, or
- contaminated water.
How is white sturgeon iridovirus disease diagnosed?
Diagnosing white sturgeon iridovirus disease requires laboratory testing. Not all infected finfish show signs of disease.
How is white sturgeon iridovirus disease treated?
There are no treatment options currently available for white sturgeon iridoviral disease.
What measures can be taken to prevent the spread and introduction of white sturgeon iridovirus disease?
If you frequently handle or work with finfish, be aware of the clinical signs of white sturgeon iridovirus disease.
Do not import live, infected finfish into Canada.
- An import permit is required from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for certain species of finfish as of December 2011.
- People bringing finfish into Canada should check other federal, provincial, and/or territorial requirements before entering the country.
Do not introduce live finfish from another country into the natural waters of Canada.
- People releasing finfish into the natural waters or in rearing facilities within Canada should check if federal or provincial and/or territorial permits are required.
If you frequently handle or work with finfish, be aware of where white sturgeon iridoviral disease occurs in your area.
- A federal, provincial and/or territorial permit or licence may be required to relocate finfish within Canada.
Do not use finfish that were bought in a grocery store as bait for catching finfish or other aquatic animals.
When cleaning and gutting finfish, dispose of all finfish waste in your municipal garbage.
The CFIA recommends that you do not visit Canadian aquaculture sites, zoos or aquariums for 14 days if you have travelled to another country and
- visited an aquaculture site, or
- had contact with wild finfish.
Wash and disinfect the footwear you wore to the site or when you had contact with wild finfish. Also wash your clothing thoroughly and dry it at a high temperature.
What is done to protect Canadian aquatic animals from white sturgeon iridovirus disease?
White sturgeon iridovirus disease is a reportable disease in Canada. This means that anyone who owns or works with aquatic animals, who knows of or suspects white sturgeon iridovirus disease in their fish, is required by law to notify the CFIA.
If white sturgeon iridovirus disease is found in Canada, the CFIA would control its spread by implementing disease response activities. These may include
- controlling the movements of infected animals that people own or work with
- humanely destroying infected animals
- cleaning and disinfecting
The control measures chosen would depend on the situation.
What do I do if I think a finfish that I am raising or keeping have white sturgeon iridovirus disease?
If you suspect a finfish that you are raising or keeping may have white sturgeon iridovirus disease, you are required under the Health of Animals Act to immediately notify the CFIA of your suspicion.
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:
- Atlantic: 506-777-3939
- Quebec: 514-283-8888
- Ontario: 226-217-8555
- West: 587-230-2200
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