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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 138:145-154 (2020)  -  DOI:

Presence of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) in the environment of virus-contaminated fish farms and processing plants

Pia Vennerström1,*, Leena Maunula2, Elina Välimäki1, Anna-Maija Virtala3

1Veterinary Bacteriology and Pathology Research Unit, Finnish Food Authority, 00027 Finnish Food Authority, Finland
2Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: After the first outbreak of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) in Finnish brackish water rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss farms, infection spread rapidly between the farms. The infrastructure of fish farming did not take into account spreading of infectious fish diseases. To show the presence of VHSV in the environment, we tested seawater, sediment and wild blue mussels Mytilus edulis from VHSV-infected fish farms, and liquid waste from a processing plant that handled infected rainbow trout. Additionally, blue mussels were bath-challenged with VHSV (exposed to cultivated virus or naturally infected rainbow trout). To detect VHSV, virus isolation in cell culture and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) were used. The virus or viral RNA was detected in sea water and in liquid waste from processing plants during wintertime when water temperature is close to 0°C and sunlight is sparse. VHSV did not appear to replicate in blue mussels in our study. Therefore, blue mussels were not considered relevant carriers of VHSV. However, traces of viral RNA were detected up to 29 d post challenge in mussels. Contact with water from processing plants handling VHSV-infected fish populations increases the risk of the disease spreading to susceptible fish populations, especially during cold and dark times of the year.

KEY WORDS: Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus · Environment · Sea water · Liquid waste · Blue mussels · Processing plant · UV-light

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Cite this article as: Vennerström P, Maunula L, Välimäki E, Virtala AM (2020) Presence of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) in the environment of virus-contaminated fish farms and processing plants. Dis Aquat Org 138:145-154.

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