DAO 54:15-27 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao054015

Haemorrhagic smolt syndrome (HSS) in Norway: pathology and associated virus-like particles

A. Nylund1,*, H. Plarre1, K. Hodneland1, M. Devold1, V. Aspehaug1, M. Aarseth1, C. Koren1,2, K. Watanabe1

1Department of Fisheries and Marine Biology, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
2Present address: Fiskehelse Nord AS, 9485 Harstad, Norway

ABSTRACT: Atlantic salmon Salmo salar pre-smolt, smolt and post-smolt, with clinical signs of haemorrhagic smolt syndrome (HSS) have been found in several locations along the Norwegian coast (Rogaland to Troms). Affected fish had pale gills and bleeding at the fin bases, but seemed to be in good physical condition with no obvious weight loss. The internal organs and body cavity showed distinct bleedings. Petechiae were found on the gastrointestinal tract, swim bladder and peritoneum, visceral adipose tissue, heart and somatic musculature. The liver was bright yellow and sometimes mottled with petechiae and ecchymoses. Acitic fluid was found in the visceral cavity and fluid was also present in the pericardial cavity. Histological examination revealed haemorrhage in most organs. The glomeruli were degenerated and the renal tubules were filled with erythrocytes. The aims of this study were to describe the pathology and discover, if possible, the aetiology of the HSS. Tissues were collected for light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunofluorescence (IFAT), reverse transcription (RT)-PCR diagnostics (screening for infectious salmon anaemia virus [ISAV], viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus [VHSV], salmon pancreas disease virus [SPDV], sleeping disease virus [SDV] and infectious haematopoetic necrosis virus [IHNV]), and tissue homogenates (heart, liver, kidney and spleen) were sterile-filtered and inoculated into cell cultures. Homogenates made from several tissues were also injected intraperitoneally into salmon and rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The diagnostic tests revealed no consistent findings of any pathogens, with the exception of TEM which showed 2 types of virus-like particles: Type I was 50 to 60 nm in diameter and Type II about 50 nm in diameter. These virus-like particles were found in salmon from all farms affected by HSS and screened by TEM. Several different cells, blood vessel endothelial cells, endocardial cells, heart myofibres, and leukocytes were associated with the 2 virus-like particles. The Type I particle seems to be an infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN)-like virus, while (based on the number of target cells, particle morphology, budding and uptake into target cells) Type II particle could be a togavirus.


KEY WORDS: Haemorrhagic smolt syndrome · Pathology · Virus


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