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NARO investigating reports of tilapia lake virus

A fish farmer drys his tilapia fish.

Jinja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO are conducting visibility studies to confirm whether there’s any threat of tilapia lake virus within the country.

Tilapia lake virus has been reported in countries like Kenya, and Egypt where it is believed to stop fish multiplication resulting into fish depletion from the lake and farms at large.

The revelation comes after fishermen along the eastern part of Lake Victoria raised complaints on the shortage of the tilapia fish species.

Fish farmers mainly those dealing in cage fish farming and ponds within Namayingo district have also reported death of tilapia, citing a strange illness which spreads on a high rate as the fish reproduces.

However, NARO’s senior research assistant, John Walakira dismisses such claims arguing that reports of the virus were first reported in 2015 after some fish farms faced moralities from parasites and fungi infections which prompted studies on Lake Victoria and affected farms.

He adds that the lake has not experienced severe death of tilapia fish in the past two years.

He stresses that NARO has embarked on the screening process of the tilapia fish from the different fish farms all over the country to ascertain whether there are traces of any virus within them.

Walakira says that there are proven tilapia viruses globally, however, none of them has been detected in the country.

Walakira further says that, tilapia also faces a threat of ISN virus which has similar characteristics like those of tilapia lake virus adding that, researchers within the country are collaborating with their counterparts in the affected countries, and the international animal health to learn more about the new virus and how to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the world.

He reveals that the research teams are also investigating possibilities of acquiring vaccines which will be availed to fish farmers to deter the virus from affecting the quality of tilapia.

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