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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV). II. Causative agent of salmon orthomyxoviral necrosis, a new disease of farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

    Scott E. Godwin*, Richard N. Morrison, Graeme Knowles, Martine C. Cornish, Dane Hayes, Jeremy Carson

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Since 2012, an orthomyxo-like virus has been consistently linked to epizootics in marine farmed Atlantic salmon in Tasmania, Australia. Here we describe the properties of the virus, designated the pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV), in cell culture and present data verifying its direct role in a disease of Atlantic salmon. In infected cells, viral RNA was detectable in both the nucleus and cytoplasm, consistent with the replication cycle of an orthomyxovirus. Viral replication in vitro was temperature-dependent (within a range of 10–20°C), and yields of virus were typically in excess of 107 TCID50 ml-1. In controlled infection trials, cell culture-derived POMV produced significant morbidity in Atlantic salmon fry, pre-smolt and post-smolt. In all cases, the development of disease was rapid, with moribund fish detected within 5 d of direct exposure to POMV, and maximum cumulative morbidity occurring within 4 wk. The experimentally infected fish developed a characteristic suite of gross and microscopic pathological changes, which were consistent with those observed in Atlantic salmon overtly affected by POMV associated disease on sea farms. These included necrotic lesions across multiple organs that were directly associated with the presence of the virus. Together, our observations indicate that POMV is an endemic virus likely transmitted from wild fish to farmed Atlantic salmon in Tasmania. The virus is pathogenic to Atlantic salmon in freshwater and marine environments and causes a disease that we have named salmon orthomyxoviral necrosis.