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Dangerous tilapia virus spotted in Egypt

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Staff Writer | March 24, 2017
A new virus that has decimated tilapia populations in Ecuador and Israel has now been found in Egypt, according to a new report from WorldFish and the University of Stirling.
Virus in Egypt   Mortalities in Egyptian farmed tilapia
Scientists are now trying to establish a firm link between the virus and a recent surge in mortalities in Egyptian farmed tilapia. Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) is a global threat to the tilapia farming industry, which is worth US$7.5bn per year.

In recent years, fish farms in Egypt have seen increased mortality of farmed tilapia in the summer months, so-called “summer mortality”. Epidemiological surveys indicated that 37% of fish farms were affected in 2015 with an average mortality rate of 9.2% and an estimated economic impact of around US$100 million/year.

Identifying the cause of and preventing these fish deaths is of significant importance in Egypt, which relies on domestic aquaculture for 60% of fish consumed with tilapia making up 75% of that production.

Tilapia is the cheapest form of animal protein in the country, so the findings have significant implications for the Egyptian people, particularly poorer consumers.

The Egyptian aquaculture sector is the largest producer of farmed fish in Africa (1.17 million tonnes in 2015) and the third largest global producer of farmed tilapia after China and Indonesia.

Tissue samples from seven farms affected by "summer mortality" were tested at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture for TiLV with three of the seven samples testing positive.