Fast test to detect deadly heart disease
AN early warning system for one of farmed salmon’s deadliest diseases is being developed by a Scottish research consortium.
Cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS), a fatal viral disease which causes inflammation of the heart, is known to be caused by piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV), although the triggers for the disease are not fully understood.
It can lead to heart failure in apparently healthy fish, resulting in significant stock losses, and is an increasing issue for the Scottish salmon industry.
While there is no vaccine or treatment for CMS, a warning system would enable salmon producers to better manage the disease and take preventative steps to minimise its impact.
In its early stages, CMS is difficult to detect and fish can be infected for some time before symptoms appear.
The team involved in the research include Cooke Aquaculture, the University of Edinburgh, Life Diagnostics, Benchmark Genetics,
Moredun Research Institute and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).
They aim to identify specific cardiac markers in the blood of fish, which can be used to detect CMS prior to signs of clinical disease.
In both human and veterinary medicine, cardiac issues are already detected via biomarkers, measured using commercial testing kits.They will identify new cardiac markers to specifically detect heart disease in salmon and apply these to diagnostic techniques currently used in human and veterinary diagnostics.
This will include tests adapted for on-site farm testing with the ability to provide results in less than three hours.
The biomarkers could also help to differentiate between CMS and salmon diseases such as pancreas disease and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation.
The project outcomes could also contribute to future genetic breeding programmes against CMS, using the methodologies to select fish that show physiological resistance.
Above: Getting to the heart of killer disease