Since the first reports of mortalities due to viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) type IVb in the Laurentian Great Lakes basin during 2005 (Lake St. Clair, USA and Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario, Canada), many groups have conducted surveillance efforts for the virus, primarily in nearshore areas. The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) has been identified as a key species to target for surveillance, because they have a very high probability of infection at a given site. Our objective in this study was to document and quantify VHSV in round gobies in offshore waters of Lake Ontario using molecular techniques. We collected 139 round gobies from depths ranging from 55 to 150 m using bottom trawls during the early spring of 2011 and detected VHSV in 4 individuals (1/26 fish at 95 m, 2/12 fish at 105 m, and 1/24 fish at 135 m). These results expand the known depth range of VHSV in the Great Lakes. They also have implications on the management of the spread of VHSV within infected bodies of water related to the mixing of populations of fish that would remain distinct in their breeding habitats, but then have the opportunity to mix in their overwintering habitats, as well as to increase overlap of predator and prey species in overwintering habitats.
Additional publication details
Low prevalence of VHSV detected in round goby collected in offshore regions of Lake Ontario