1887

Abstract

Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) caused by the rhabdovirus VHSV is economically the most important viral disease in European rainbow trout farming. Until 1989, this virus was mainly isolated from freshwater salmonids but in the last decade, it has also been isolated from an increasing number of free-living marine fish species. To study the genetic evolution of VHSV, the entire G gene from 74 isolates was analysed. VHSV from wild marine species caught in the Baltic Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, North Sea, and English Channel and European freshwater isolates, appeared to share a recent common ancestor. Based on the estimated nucleotide substitution rate, the ancestor of the European fresh water isolates was dated some 50 years ago. This finding fits with the initial reports in the 1950s on clinical observations of VHS in Danish freshwater rainbow trout farms. The study also indicates that European marine VHSV and the North American marine line separated approx. 500 years ago. The codon substitution rate among the freshwater VHSV isolates was found to be 2·5 times faster than among marine isolates. The data support the hypothesis of the marine environment being the original reservoir of VHSV and that the change in host range (to include rainbow trout) may have occurred several times. Virus from the marine environment will therefore continue to represent a threat to the trout aquaculture industry.

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2004-05-01
2019-11-21
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