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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03618

    Early detection of salmonid alphavirus in seawater from marine farm sites of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

    Lisa-Victoria Bernhardt*, Atle Lillehaug, Lars Qviller, Simon Chioma Weli, Estelle Gr√łnneberg, Hanne Nilsen, Mette Myrmel

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The traditional strategy for national surveillance of salmonid alphavirus (SAV) infection in Norwegian fish farms relies on a costly, time-consuming, and resource-demanding approach based on the monthly sampling of fish from all marine farms with salmonids. In order to develop an alternative surveillance method, a water filtration method was tested in parallel with the ongoing surveillance program in seven Norwegian marine farm sites of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. with no current suspicion of SAV infection. During the period from May 2019 to January 2020, seawater samples were collected from the top layer water inside all net-pens at seven sites. The samples were concentrated for SAV by filtration through an MF-Millipore™ electronegative membrane filter, followed by rinsing with NucliSENS® Lysis Buffer, before RNA extraction and analysis by RT-qPCR. SAV was detected from seawater at an earlier stage compared to traditional sampling methods, in all sites where the fish tested positive for SAV. A significant negative relationship was observed at all sites between the SAV concentration found in seawater samples and the number of days until SAV was detected in the fish. This means that, the fewer SAV particles in the seawater, the more days it took until SAV was detected in the fish samples. Based on this, sampling of seawater every month for the surveillance of SAV has a great potential as an alternative method for early detection of SAV in Atlantic salmon farms.