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There were a record number of confirmed and suspected cases of PD at Norwegian fish farms last year. Photo: Linn Therese Skår Hosteland
There were a record number of confirmed and suspected cases of PD at Norwegian fish farms last year. Photo: Linn Therese Skår Hosteland

The number of confirmed and suspected outbreaks of pancreas disease (PD) reached an all-time high in Norway's aquaculture industry last year, according to figures from the country's National Veterinary Institute.

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According to the Institute's statistics, in mid-December there was a total of 172 PD indications / suspicions for 2017, which is the highest number ever. The figure does not represent the whole picture as last year's cases have not yet been summed up. By comparison, by the end of 2016, the Institute had recorded 138 cases / suspicions.

Brit Hjeltnes, the senior vice president for fisheries health at the Veterinary Institute, says that they can't be sure of the reason for the high PD figure last year.

New screening routine

"But if you look at the development, you can see it began to rise in October, and that's the time of year we normally see fewer outbreaks. The increase coincides with the introduction of the new PD screening routine, which in turn can indicate that things are discovered earlier," she says.

Hjeltnes points out that they must be careful about saying this is the reason, as it does not necessarily mean one item is a facet because it coincides with something else. "But we think that's part of the explanation," she adds.

Another explanation may be that there has been undetected PD, which was first discovered during screening, in PD areas.

"It is also not surprising, for we see there is a high risk of infection in the areas in western Norway that have PD."

Criticised border move

Regarding 2018's statistics, she believes these may be similar to last year.

"In 2017, I said I think the outbreaks in 2017 and 2018 will be on a par with the previous year, as I can't see anything significant in the regulatory framework that would indicate that they will go down."

She points out that during the consultation of the action plan the Veterinary Institute criticised moving the PD border due to increased risk of infection, as it did when the border was moved previously.

"If you start to relax the border line, I think it will move north."