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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 57:43-50 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao057043

Isolation of a rhabdovirus during outbreaks of disease in cyprinid fish species at fishery sites in England

K. Way*, S. J. Bark, C. B. Longshaw, K. L. Denham, P. F. Dixon, S. W. Feist, R. Gardiner, M. J. Gubbins, R. M. Le Deuff, P. D. Martin, D. M. Stone, G. R. Taylor

Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK

ABSTRACT: A virus was isolated during disease outbreaks in bream Abramis brama, tench Tinca tinca, roach Rutilis rutilis and crucian carp Carassius carassius populations at 6 fishery sites in England in 1999. Mortalities at the sites were primarily among recently introduced fish and the predominant fish species affected was bream. The bream stocked at 5 of the 6 English fishery sites were found to have originated from the River Bann, Northern Ireland. Most fish presented few consistent external signs of disease but some exhibited clinical signs similar to those of spring viraemia of carp (SVC), with extensive skin haemorrhages, ulceration on the flanks and internal signs including ascites and petechial haemorrhages. The most prominent histopathological changes were hepatocellular necrosis, interstitial nephritis and splenitis. The virus induced a cytopathic effect in tissue cultures (Epithelioma papulosum cyprini [EPC] cells) at 20°C and produced moderate signals in an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for the detection of SVC virus. The virus showed a close serological relationship to pike fry rhabdovirus in both EIA and serum neutralisation assays and to a rhabdovirus isolated during a disease outbreak in a bream population in the River Bann in 1998. A high degree of sequence similarity (≥99.5% nucleotide identity) was observed between the English isolates and those from the River Bann. Experimental infection of juvenile bream, tench and carp with EPC cell-grown rhabdovir by bath and intraperitoneal injection resulted in a 40% mortality of bream in the injection group only. The virus was re-isolated from pooled kidney, liver and spleen tissue samples from moribund bream. The field observations together with the experimental results indicate that this rhabdovirus is of low virulence but may have the potential to cause significant mortality in fishes under stress.

KEY WORDS: Fish · Rhabdovirus · Cyprinids · Histopathology · Enzyme immunoassay · RT-PCR

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