Tilapiavirus threatens daily living of millions of people

A very contagious, and fish deadly disease threatening farmed and wild tilapia, one of the main fish species for human consumption. Millions of people are for their income, depending on the species.

A Thai fisherman brings his white tilapia to the market. © REUTERS

The Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) would not endanger the public health, but does have a large impact on global food security: the disease is in the production to decimate. An economic and social tragedy is imminent: millions of people – often smaller fishmongers select in the south – for their job and income depends on the fish.

Strict gezondheidsprocedures

In 2015 was the catch of farmed and wild tilapia is still good for 6.4 million tonnes of food with a market value of $ 9.8 billion. That makes tilapia the world’s second most cultured fish species in aquaculture, something which especially in China, Indonesia, and Egypt happens.

According to the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) of the United Nations the outbreak of the virus very to be taken seriously. In a special warning calls to the organisation countries in which the popular species of fish to import to extra alert, diagnostics and voedseltests to float and strict gezondheidsprocedures to follow.

Also the countries in which tilapia production and trade is requested to the protocol for animal health that was prepared by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), to comply strictly. “These countries have a monitoring system to initialize and activate to the presence or absence of the TiLV, the geographical distribution map as the risk factors for further spread”, says the FAO.

All five of the countries affected

In five countries on three continents, the virus was already detected: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, and Thailand.

“There is still much uncertainty about TiLV”, says the FAO. “This needs further research to make clear whether the spread of the virus can happen by other fish, mammals or birds. It is also unclear whether frozen tilapia the virus can still pass it on.”

The virus has the tilapiapopulatie in Thailand in some farms up to 90 percent affected. Infected fish swim slower and have no appetite. Their scales show lesions and sores, and they have eye problems.

In addition, the OIE also has the network of Aquaculture in Asia-Pacific (NACA) this month, an official opinion in connection with TiLV issued. Also, the WorldFish Center has on its website guidelines about dealing with TiLV published.

(IPS World Desk/EK)

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