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Identification of Aphanomyces invadans, the cause of epizootic ulcerative syndrome, in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) from the Cheat River, West Virginia, USA

June 11, 2021

The oomycete Aphanomyces invadans (Saprolegniales, Oomycetes), the cause of epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS), is an OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) reportable pathogen, capable of infecting many fish species worldwide in both freshwater and estuarine environments (Iberahim et al. 2018). Since the discovery of EUS in Japan in 1971 (Egusa and Masuda 1971), it has spread globally and caused substantial fish mortalities and economic losses (Lilley et al. 1998). Cases in the United States have included lesions initially named ulcerative mycosis of Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus (Noga et al. 1988) along the Atlantic coast and later confirmed as A. invadans in menhaden from the Chesapeake Bay (Blazer et al. 1999). It has also been reported in several freshwater and estuarine fishes from Florida, including largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides (Sosa et al. 2007) and channel catfish, black bullhead, and bluegill from recreational ponds in Louisiana (Hawke et al. 2003).This communication reports the finding of A. invadans in smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu from the Cheat River, West Virginia. During fish health assessments in October 2020, smallmouth bass with grossly observable skin lesions were determined to be infected with A. invadans. We believe this is the first report of A. invadans infection in smallmouth bass and it was not observed during previous health assessments in this region.