Tilapia virus disease

Once thought to be disease-resistant, tilapia is being ravaged by a new virus that has seen a big decline in its population in Egypt and other parts of the world.
Tilapia remains the most popular fish species reared in fish ponds in Kenya and across the world. Hardy, adaptable to different water salinity levels and easy to feed, tilapia makes a favourite dish, supplying vital proteins to human diets.
Researchers at the University of Stirling, Scotland, in partnership with WorldFish, a global research organisation, are now trying to establish a link between the virus and the recent surge in the deaths of Egyptian- farmed tilapia.
The Nile has its source in East Africa and flows to Egypt, news on the virus will raise the alarm in the region. Scientists report that the Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) is a global threat to the tilapia farming industry, which is worth about Ksh750 billion a year. Across Egypt, at least 37 per cent of fish farms were affected in 2015 with an average mortality rate of 9.2 per cent, an estimated loss of Ksh100 million annually.
“Tilapia was previously considered to have good disease resistance. Emergence of the tilapia virus shows that greater efforts must be made to manage the risks in tilapia farming across the world,” said Dr Michael Phillips, director of science and aquaculture at WorldFish.
Other researchers warn about the need to be more vigilant on the fish disease threat. “Globally, there is no aqua cultural system that is free from the risk of disease.
Unless we are able to manage, minimise its impact, and bring down the prevalence and incidence of diseases, we will not be able to meet future demand for fish,” warned Prof Manfred Weidmann, a virologist at the University of Stirling Tilapia is an important species for aquaculture because it can be grown in diverse farming systems and is omnivorous

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