Bacterial kidney disease in finfish

Renibacterium salmoninarum

This disease kills large numbers of young salmon, including the Chinook salmon. Chinook are the main species of salmon we farm in New Zealand.

About bacterial kidney disease of finfish

This kidney disease mostly infects salmon and trout but other species are also at risk. A bacterium causes the disease. The bacteria are passed from fish to fish and from parent to egg.

This disease is prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere and Chile. It was first described in Scotland.

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

Chinook salmon is the main species of salmon farmed in New Zealand. It is susceptible to this disease. Bacterial kidney disease kills large numbers of young fish in both freshwater and seawater. If a fish survives the infection they can pass on the bacteria to their offspring.

How it could get here

The bacteria could come to New Zealand through infected:

  • live or dead finfish
  • eggs.

MPI has strict measures in place to limit the chances of this disease making it through the border.

Where will I find it?

Infected fish are mostly likely to be found in fish farms, both freshwater and marine.

How to identify it

Diagnosing fish diseases requires laboratory testing. Signs of fish diseases are difficult to tell apart.

If you find lethargic fish and unusual mortality levels

  • photograph them
  • put a dead fish in a plastic bag and refrigerate it (if you can)
  • call 0800 80 99 66

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

Last reviewed: