DAO 47:81-86 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/dao047081

Distribution of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus in wild fish species of the North Sea, north east Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea

J. A. King*, M. Snow, D. A. Smail, R. S. Raynard

FRS Marine Laboratory, PO Box 101, Victoria Road, Aberdeen AB11 9DB, Scotland, UK

ABSTRACT: A surveillance programme was initiated on the occurrence and distribution of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) in wild marine fish. Six research cruises were undertaken in an 18 mo period during 1997 and 1998, covering the North Sea, the Atlantic waters off the north and west coasts of Scotland and the Irish Sea. A total of 19293 fish were sampled from 23 different species including cod, haddock, Norway pout, herring and sprat. Individual fish lengths were recorded and the fish were checked for lesions, haemorrhaging and other signs of disease. Pools of organ samples were taken for virus assay. The majority of fish sampled did not display clinical signs indicative of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia. A small number of cod were found with skin lesions and haddock with skin haemorrhaging. Of the 2081 organ and skin sample pools collected, 21 tested positive for VHSV by tissue culture and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Seventeen of the isolates originated from Norway pout Trisopterus esmarkii, one from cod Gadus morhua (skin lesion), one from herring Clupea harengus, one from whiting Merlangius merlangus, and one from a previously unreported host species, poor cod Trisopterus minutus.


KEY WORDS: Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus · VHSV · Wild marine fish · North Sea · Atlantic Ocean · Irish Sea


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