Iridoviruses associated with epizootic haematopoietic necrosis (EHN) in aquaculture

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Abstract

Systemic infections of teleost fishes caused by iridoviruses have recently been recognized in Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA. These iridoviruses are different from those of the established genera Lymphocystivirus and Goldfish Virus 1-like Viruses of the family Iridoviridae. The agents exhibit similar physicochemical properties, are antigenically related and prove to be of high virulence to different teleost fishes in aquaculture. The first iridovirus, epizootic haematopoietic necrosis virus, responsible for an epizootic outbreak of haematopoietic necrosis in redfin perch, was reported in Australia. Some years later, similar iridovirus epizootics occurred in sheatfish and catfish in Europe. The Australian and the European isolates proved to be antigenically related and showed properties in common with frog virus 3, the type species of the genus Ranavirus of the Iridoviridae. Further iridovirus isolates from fish, amphibians and reptiles exhibited a close relationship with each other and with frog virus 3. It is important to note that the Australian amphibian iridovirus, Bohle iridovirus, was experimentally transmitted to teleost fish inducing high mortalities. The occurrence of similar viruses in different host species in the aquatic environment and their inter-species transmission emphasize the importance of health control in aquaculture.