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Piscine orthoreovirus sequences in escaped farmed Atlantic salmon in Washington and British Columbia

Kibenge, Molly J. T., Wang, Yingwei, Gayeski, Nick, Morton, Alexandra, Beardslee, Kurt, McMillan, Bill, Kibenge, Frederick S. B.
Virology journal 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 41
Orthoreovirus, Salmo salar, amino acids, aquaculture, breeding stock, coasts, epidemiology, farms, feral animals, fish eggs, hatcheries, heart, industry, inflammation, phylogeny, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, salmon, sequence diversity, subgenotype, tissues, viruses, British Columbia, Iceland, Puget Sound, Washington (state)
BACKGROUND: Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) is an emergent virus in salmon aquaculture belonging to the family Reoviridae. PRV is associated with a growing list of pathological conditions including heart and skeletal inflammation (HSMI) of farmed Atlantic salmon. Despite widespread PRV infection in commercially farmed Atlantic salmon, information on PRV prevalence and on the genetic sequence variation of PRV in Atlantic salmon on the north Pacific Coast is limited. METHODS: Feral Atlantic salmon caught in Washington State and British Columbia following a large containment failure at a farm in northern Puget Sound were sampled. Fish tissues were tested for PRV by RT-qPCR assay for segment L1 and conventional RT-PCR for PRV segment S1. The PCR products were sequenced and their relationship to PRV strains in GenBank was determined using phylogenetic analysis and nucleotide and amino acid homology comparisons. RESULTS: Following the escape of 253,000 Atlantic salmon from a salmon farm in Washington State, USA, 72/73 tissue samples from 27 Atlantic salmon captured shortly after the escape tested PRV-positive. We estimate PRV-prevalence in the source farm population at 95% or greater. The PRV found in the fish was identified as PRV sub-genotype Ia and very similar to PRV from farmed Atlantic salmon in Iceland. This correlates with the source of the fish in the farm. Eggs of infected fish were positive for PRV indicating the possibility of vertical transfer and spread with fish egg transports. CONCLUSIONS: PRV prevalence was close to 100% in farmed Atlantic salmon that were caught in Washington State and British Columbia following a large containment failure at a farm in northern Puget Sound. The PRV strains present in the escaped Atlantic salmon were very similar to the PRV strain reported in farmed Atlantic salmon from the source hatchery in Iceland that was used to stock commercial aquaculture sites in Washington State. This study emphasizes the need to screen Atlantic salmon broodstock for PRV, particularly where used to supply eggs to the global Atlantic salmon farming industry thereby improving our understanding of PRV epidemiology.