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Genetic comparison of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus isolates from North America and Europe



Genetic comparison of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus isolates from North America and Europe



Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 17(1): 73-80



Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) is the causative agent of a serious rhabdoviral disease of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss in Europe. The first isolation of the virus in North America occurred in the fall of 1988 when it was recovered from adult chinook O. tshawytscha and coho O. kisutch salmon returning to 2 hatcheries in the state of Washington, USA. The following year, VHSV was isolated from adult coho salmon at 2 other hatcheries in northwestern Washington. In 1990 and 1991, VHSV was recovered from Pacific cod Gadus macrocephalus caught in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Genetic variation among the 4 isolates from salmon and the 1990 isolate from Pacific cod was determined using T1 ribonuclease fingerprinting. In addition, 4 diverse isolates from Europe were included for comparison. The North American isolates of VHSV formed a single fingerprint group in which the 4 isolates from salmonids were highly similar to each other and the isolate from Pacific cod was related but less similar. The 4 European isolates, which included an isolate from Atlantic cod G. morhua, formed a second fingerprint group. The genetic diversity among the isolates within each fingerprint group was estimated to be less than 5% while the North American and European strains of the virus were judged to differ by more than 5%. The results indicate that the North American isolates of VHSV are not of European origin and that the virus may be enzootic within the marine environment.

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