A feared viral disease proven deadly in Norwegian fish farms has been confirmed for the first time by federal scientists studying farmed salmon in B.C.

Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) has been linked to the deaths of up to 20 per cent of stock at some Norwegian farms.

"The concern is that it is a disease that hasn't previously been detected in B.C. and at the present time we really don't have sufficient evidence to know if it causes mortality or is a production issue here," said Kristi Miller, part of a team of federal scientists studying farmed fish samples from sites along the B.C. coast.

Miller, head of the molecular genetics research program in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), confirmed that pathologists found lesions on salmon at one farm in Johnstone Strait, along the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

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