There is still no miracle cure for HSMB in salmon, but scientist Lill-Heidi Johansen is constantly finding new pieces in the puzzle. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Project Year 2015

HSMI: More pieces in place

Slowly but surely, researchers are putting together the pieces in the puzzle of knowledge on how to best prevent disease in salmon.

A three-year project with different research approaches to the virus disease HSMI (Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation) has come to an end. According to researcher and project leader Lill-Heidi Johansen, there is still no miracle cure that prevents and cures the disease in salmon, but a few more pieces of the puzzle are in place.

Micro-organisms, environmental factors, farming conditions and malnutrition. The factors that contribute to the disease’s development are numerous. This makes it difficult to both prevent and treat. Among other things, this research project has compared the diseases HSMI and PD (Pancreas Disease) and the consequences they have for salmon.

“Increased knowledge on which immune response the different diseases result in allows for better vaccines that can prevent outbreak of disease. There is currently a vaccine for PD, but not for HSMI. Our results show that the salmon’s response to the two diseases is somewhat different. Innate immune response is strongest in the case of PD, while adaptive response is strongest in the case of HSMI”, Johansen says.

The vast majority of farmed salmon in Norway are healthy and fit until they reach slaughter weight. However, in cases where disease afflicts aquaculture facilities, it impacts profitability in several ways: Fish die of the disease, one experiences slower growth than normal both during and after disease outbreaks, and one can lose income as a result of downgrading to poorer quality for fish that have been subject to disease. Early diagnosis is therefore of great interest to the industry.

“The earlier one knows, the greater the chance of implementing necessary measures to prevent infection from developing into disease. Our results may contribute to new methodology for early and more disease-specific diagnosis,” Lill-Heidi Johansen concludes.

“We know far more than we did at the project’s outset, but we still don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.”

The University of Tromsø, Norway's Arctic University (UiT)

Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF)

More useful research results