Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis - Fact Sheet

What is infectious pancreatic necrosis?

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

What species of finfish can be infected with infectious pancreatic necrosis?

Each species of finfish may have several common names, but only one common name is listed.

Species susceptible to infectious pancreatic necrosis that exist in the natural environment in Canada include:

  • Anarhichas minor (spotted wolfish)
  • Carassius auratus (goldfish)
  • Catostomus commersonii (white sucker)
  • Cyprinus carpio (common carp)
  • Gadus morhua (Atlantic cod)
  • Hippoglossus hippoglossus (Atlantic halibut)
  • Melanogrammus aeglefinus (haddock)
  • Morone saxatilis (striped bass)
  • Oncorhynchus clarkii (cutthroat trout)
  • Oncorhynchus keta (chum salmon)
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout)
  • Phoxinus phoxinus (Eurasian minnow)
  • Pollachius virens (pollack; saithe)
  • Salmo salar (Atlantic salmon)
  • Salmo trutta (Brown trout)
  • Salvelinus alpinus (Arctic char)
  • Salvelinus fontinalis (brook trout)
  • Salvelinus namaycush (lake trout)

Species susceptible infectious pancreatic necrosis that do not exist in the natural environment in Canada include:

  • Abramis brama (common bream)
  • Anguilla anguilla (European eel)
  • Anguilla japonica (Japanese eel)
  • Barbus barbus (barbel)
  • Ctenolabrus rupestris (goldsinny-wrasse)
  • Eutrigla gurnardus (grey gurnard)
  • Hucho hucho (huchen)
  • Lampetra fluviatilis (river lamprey)
  • Limanda limanda (common dab)
  • Merluccius merluccius (European hake)
  • Microstomus kitt (lemon sole)
  • Oncorhychus rhodurus (amago salmon)
  • Paralichthys lethostigma (southern flounder)
  • Perca fluviatilis (European perch)
  • Platichthys flesus (European flounder)
  • Pleuronectes platessa (European plaice)
  • Psetta maxima (turbot)
  • Sparus aurata (gilthead seabream)
  • Symphysodon discus (red discus)
  • Thymallus thymallus (grayling)

Is infectious pancreatic necrosis a risk to human health?

No. The causal agent of infectious pancreatic necrosis is not a risk to human health.

What are the signs of infectious pancreatic necrosis?

Infectious pancreatic necrosis is a cause of death in

  • fry and fingerlings from 1 to 4 months of age with overall deaths reaching high rates
  • smolts transferred to seawater; with infected animal deaths increasing after 7 to 12 weeks of transfer

Affected finfish may exhibit any of the following signs:

  • behaviour
    • loss of appetite
    • abnormal swimming pattern (including spiral and corkscrew motions)
    • fish lying still on bottom of the holding unit
  • appearance
    • white trailing faecal casts
    • swollen belly filled with fluid
    • dark skin colour
    • bulging eyes
    • areas of bleeding on the bottom of the belly, including the ventral fins
    • pale gills
    • areas of pinpoint bleeding in the fatty tissues surrounding the organs
    • spleen, kidney, liver and heart are pale in colour in fry
    • stomach and intestines are empty or filled with clear or milky mucus

Is infectious pancreatic necrosis found in Canada?

Yes. Infectious pancreatic necrosis is found in all regions of Canada except for British Columbia.

How is infectious pancreatic necrosis spread?

Infectious pancreatic necrosis is spread between finfish by

  • contaminated water, and
  • contaminated equipment.

People can spread infectious pancreatic necrosis by moving any of the following:

  • infected live or dead finfish,
  • contaminated equipment, or
  • contaminated water.

How is infectious pancreatic necrosis diagnosed?

Diagnosing infectious pancreatic necrosis requires laboratory testing. Not all infected finfish show signs of disease.

How is infectious pancreatic necrosis treated?

There are no treatment options currently available for infectious pancreatic necrosis.

What measures can be taken to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious pancreatic necrosis?

If you frequently handle or work with finfish, be aware of the clinical signs of infectious pancreatic necrosis.

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.

Do not import live infected finfish into Canada.

  • An import permit is required from the 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.

If you frequently handle or work with finfish, be aware of where infectious pancreatic necrosis 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 Canadian Food Inspection Agency (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 infectious pancreatic necrosis?

Infectious pancreatic necrosis is a reportable disease in Canada. This means that anyone who owns or works with aquatic animals, who knows of or suspects infectious pancreatic necrosis in their fish, is required by law to notify the CFIA.

If infectious pancreatic necrosis 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 infectious pancreatic necrosis?

If you suspect a finfish that you are raising or keeping may have infectious pancreatic necrosis, you are required under the Health of Animals Act to immediately notify the CFIA.

How do I get more information?

For more information about reportable diseases, contact your local CFIA office, or visit the website at www.inspection.gc.ca/aquatic.

Contact your CFIA Area office

  • Atlantic: 506-777-3939
  • Quebec: 514-283-8888
  • Ontario: 226-217-8555
  • West: 587-230-2200

You can find your local CFIA Animal Health Office:

  • on the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca, or
  • by consulting the blue pages of your local phone directory.
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