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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 38:81-86 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/dao038081

Isolation of the North American strain of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) associated with epizootic mortality in two new host species of Alaskan marine fish

T. R. Meyers*, S. Short, K. Lipson

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Commercial Fisheries Division, Juneau Fish Pathology Laboratory, PO Box 25526, Juneau, Alaska 99802-5526, USA

ABSTRACT: Thousands of dead Pacific herring Clupea pallasi, Pacific hake Merluccius productus and walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma were reported in Lisianski Inlet near Pelican, Alaska, USA, on August 1, 1998. The Pacific hake and pollock continued to die through the end of September. Virological examinations of dead fish identified the North American strain of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) from all 3 species of fish as well as associated high virus titers and possible histopathological lesions. No other primary fish pathogens were detected and there were no apparent environmental causes for fish mortality. This is the first report of VHSV in 2 new Alaskan fish host species and of a natural epizootic associated with VHSV in which progressive mass mortality was observed simultaneously in herring and 2 other species of free-ranging marine fish.

KEY WORDS: VHSV · Epizootic · Mortality

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