Case definition for clinical and subclinical bacterial kidney disease (BKD) in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) in New Brunswick, Canada

A.S. Boerlage, H. Stryhn, J. Sanchez, K.L. Hammell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial kidney disease (BKD) is considered an important cause of loss in salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada. Causative agent of BKD is the Gram‐positive bacteria Renibacterium salmoninarum. Infected salmon are often asymptomatic (subclinical infection), and the disease is considered chronic. One of the challenges in quantifying information from farm production and health records is the application of a standardized case definition. Case definitions for farm‐level and cage‐level clinical and subclinical BKD were developed using retrospective longitudinal data from aquaculture practices in New Brunswick, Canada, combining (i) industry records of weekly production data including mortalities, (ii) field observations for BKD using reports of veterinarians and/or fish health technicians, (iii) diagnostic submissions and test results and (iv) treatments used to control BKD. Case definitions were evaluated using veterinarians’ expert judgements as reference standard. Eighty‐nine and 66% of sites and fish groups, respectively, were associated with BKD at least once. For BKD present (subclinical or clinical), sensitivity and specificity of the case definition were 75–100% varying between event, fish group, site cycle and level (site pen). For clinical BKD, sensitivities were 29–64% and specificities 91–100%. Industry data can be used to develop sensitive case definitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-409
JournalJournal of Fish Diseases
Issue number3
Early online date15 Aug 2016
Publication statusPrint publication - 3 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial kidney disease (BKD)
  • Canada
  • Case definition
  • New Brunswick
  • Renibacterium salmoninarum
  • Salmo salar L


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