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Lake Kinneret - Virus (TiLV) linked to tilapia mortalities [emerging disease Oct 2011 - ongoing]
For over one decade many fish species from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret - Isreal) have been suspected of dying from a mysterious disease.
The disease has been found in about 15% of the lakes fish population and also in fish ponds in the Hula Valley. So far, the disease is known to affect species such as St. Peter's Fish (tilapia), silver carp, carp, and mullet.
The disease was investigated in September 2011 by Isreal's Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Services, but at that time no pathogen had been identified. Recent Ministry of Agriculture investigations have identified the problem is worsening in tilapia, which may be linked to the discovery of a virus affecting the eye.
The Ministry says that the virus poses absolutely no peril to public health, to those either eating the fish or swimming with them.
Identification of a novel RNA virus. Tilapia Lake Virus TiLV
An international scientific team led by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Tel Aviv University has identified and characterized a novel virus behind massive die-offs of farmed tilapia in Israel and Ecuador, which threatens the $7.5 billion global tilapia industry.
A paper in the journal mBio describes tilapia lake virus (TiLV) and provides information needed to fight the outbreak.
Known in its native Middle East as St. Peter's fish and thought to be the biblical fish that fed multitudes, tilapia provides inexpensive dietary protein.
The world's second most farmed fish, tilapia is also the basis of aquaculture employment in developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. (The United States is the leading tilapia importer globally.)
Since 2009, Israel has seen precipitous declines in tilapia, with annual yields plummeting as much as 85 per cent--highly unusual considering the fish is known to be relatively resistant to viral infections. Similar die-offs have been seen in Ecuador and Colombia.