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Virus called suspect in salmon deaths

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Victoria, British Columbia (UPI) Jan 14, 2011
Salmon with genetic activity linked to a virus are less likely to survive migration from the ocean to spawning grounds in British Columbia, researchers say.

A government study found a certain pattern of proteins being turned on by genes in their tissues was found in those salmon believed least likely to survive their migration to the spawning grounds up the Fraser River, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

"It's a pattern that resembles a response to viral-like activity," Tony Farrell, a zoologist at the University of British Columbia, said.

Researchers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada suggest a virus may be infecting the fish while they are at sea, before they enter the river, and persists as they migrate to their spawning areas.

"We tend to think that it's the conditions in the river that determine whether the fish makes it up there or not," Farrell said.

However, the study suggests conditions that existed before they reach the river play a main role, he said.

Farrell cautioned more studies must be done to confirm whether a virus is actually a contributor to the higher mortality.

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