Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) of nonsalmonids

Meier, W., Schmitt, M. and Wahli, T.
Ann. Rev. Fish. Dis.
VHS is a viscerotropic disease of fish that can cause enormous losses in European rainbow trout populations. Although previously thought to be species specific, recent reports have indicated that other nonsalmonid fish species, such as pike, whitefish, grayling, turbot, and herring, can become mortally infected with VHS. This paper reviews several cases of natural VHS-outbreaks in nonsalmonids. Pike, whitefish, grayling, turbot, and Pacific herring infected with VHS displayed symptoms typical of hemorrhagic septicemia. The isolation and serological identification of the viruses from all of the infected fish species revealed a close relation to the Egtved-virus strain F1. The virus isolates from diseased pike and rainbow trout were capable of infecting their respective host fish. Experimental infections of pike, whitefish, and grayling fry with Egtved virus strain F1 resulted in high mortalities, with symptoms typical of VHS. Although experiments with older fish suggested an age-dependent decrease in susceptibility, the virus could be isolated from most of the infected fish after several months of experimental infection (carrier status). Histological and electron microscopical findings were comparable to those seen in VHS-infected rainbow trout. The susceptibility of nonsalmonid species to VHS infection is disconcerting with respect to the potential losses of the economically important turbot, Pacific herring, and whitefish, as well as the ecologically valuable grayling which is threatened by extinction. If the VHS susceptible nonsalmonid species can also support the propagation of the Egtved-virus, it could acquire carrier-status and, as a result, represent a "natural" reservoir for the virus.

Cambridge Scientific Abstracts