Infectious pancreatic necrosis

Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus

Infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) kills a range of fish species, including salmon and trout. IPN virus is virtually unkillable.

About IPN virus

Infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) is a disease of freshwater and saltwater finfish. A virus causes the disease. Fish catch the virus from other fish, including their parents.

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

IPN virus can infect a range of fish species. Keeping it out of New Zealand is particularly important for aquaculture and fisheries species. If it were found here, it could result in mass fish deaths and create barriers for our exports.

IPN virus is highly contagious. If fish survive an infection, we assume they become healthy-looking carriers. Carrier fish could spread the disease to healthy fish.

Once established, aquatic diseases are extremely difficult to eradicate.

How it could get here

IPN virus could get to New Zealand through:

  • infected live or dead finfish (or eggs) or shellfish
  • contaminated equipment (like nets and containers)
  • contaminated water.

It can resist the normal techniques used to kill infectious organisms. MPI has strict measures in place to limit the chances of this virus making it through the border.

Where would I find it?

This disease can infect fish in both the marine and freshwater environments.

How to identify infectious pancreatic necrosis

In farms, disease signs appear suddenly. The main sign is an unusual number of deaths in fry or fingerlings (young fish). Fish deaths may be seen as fish go from fresh water to sea water (smolts).

Diagnosing fish diseases requires laboratory testing. Signs of fish diseases are difficult to tell apart. Not all infected fish show signs of disease.

What to do

If you see a lot of dead fish and it's unexpected or unexplained:

  • take a photo
  • collect one of the dead fish, if possible
  • record the location and landmarks
  • call MPI on 0800 80 99 66

Note: This information is a summary of this disease's potential impacts on New Zealand.

Last reviewed: