Laboratory-reared pathogen-free Pacific herring were exposed to pure cultures of Ichthyophonus hoferi, and reproduced the disease seen in naturally infected fish - thus fulfilling Koch's Postulates. Pathogen-free herring used in this study were reared from artificially spawned eggs incubated in filtered, UV-sterilized seawater, eliminating the variables associated with multiple infections, which are common in wild herring. Wild free-ranging herring were captured monthly from June through October by dip net from 'herring balls' located in the northern Puget Sound. I. hoferi infections were identified in these fish soon after metamorphoses, about 4 mo post-hatch. The prevalence increased from 5 to 6% in 0-yr fish to 24% in 1-yr-old fish to 50 to 70% in fish over 2 yr old, with no associated increase in mortality. The route of natural transmission to wild herring was not determined, but carnivorous fish became infected and died when they were experimentally fed tissues infected with the organism. In vitro culture of tissues was the most sensitive method for identifying both clinical and subclinical infections.
Additional publication details
Pathogenicity of Ichthyophonus hoferi for laboratory-reared Pacific herring Clupea pallasi and its early appearance in wild Puget Sound herring