The North American strain of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus is highly pathogenic for laboratory-reared Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi)

Journal of Aquatic Animal Health
By: , and 



Specific-pathogen-free Pacific herring Clupea pallasi were reared in the laboratory from eggs and then challenged at 5, 9, and 13 months of age by waterborne exposure to low (101.5–2.5 plaque-forming units [PFU] per milliliter), medium (103.5–4.5 PFU/mL), or high (105.5–6.5 PFU/mL) levels of a North American isolate of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV). The fish were extremely susceptible to the virus, showing clinical disease, mortality approaching 100%, and only a limited increase in resistance with age. Mortality began 4–6 d after exposure and peaked at approximately day 7 in fish exposed to high levels of virus. Whereas the mean time to death showed a significant dose response (P < 0.001), the percent mortality and virus titers in dead fish were generally high in all groups regardless of initial challenge dose. External signs of disease were usually limited to 1–2-mm hemorrhagic areas on the lower jaw and isthmus and around the eye, but 2 of 130 infected fish exhibited extensive cutaneous hemorrhaging. Histopathologic examination of tissues from moribund fish sampled at 2–8 d after exposure revealed multifocal coagulative necrosis of hepatocytes, diffuse necrosis of interstitial hematopoietic tissues in the kidney, diffuse necrosis of the spleen, epidermis, and subcutis, and occasional necrosis of pancreatic acinar cells. Virus titers in tissues of experimentally infected herring were first detected 48 h after exposure and peaked 6-8 d after exposure at 107.7 PFU/g. Fish began shedding virus at 48 h after exposure with titers in the flow-through aquaria reaching 102.5 PFU/mL at 4–5 d after exposure, just before peak mortality. When the water flow was turned off for 3 h, titers in the water rose to 103.5 PFU/mL, and the amount of virus shed by infected fish (on average, greater than 106.5 PFU/h per fish) appeared sufficient to sustain a natural epizootic among schooling herring. Taken together, these data suggest that VHSV could be a significant limiting factor for populations of Pacific herring.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The North American strain of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus is highly pathogenic for laboratory-reared Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi)
Series title Journal of Aquatic Animal Health
DOI 10.1577/1548-8667(1997)009<0279:NASOVH>2.3.CO;2
Volume 9
Issue 4
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Societ
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 279
Last page 290
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