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Isolation of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus from muskellunge, Esox masquinongy (Mitchill), in Lake St Clair, Michigan, USA reveals a new sublineage of the North American genotype

January 1, 2006

Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) was isolated from muskellunge, Esox masquinongy (Mitchill), caught from the NW portion of Lake St Clair, Michigan, USA in 2003. Affected fish exhibited congestion of internal organs; the inner wall of the swim bladder was thickened and contained numerous budding, fluid-filled vesicles. A virus was isolated using fish cell lines inoculated with a homogenate of kidney and spleen tissues from affected fish. Focal areas of cell rounding and granulation appeared as early as 24 h post-inoculation and expanded rapidly to destroy the entire cell sheet by 96 h. Electron microscopy revealed virions that were 170-180 nm in length by 60-70 nm in width having a bullet-shaped morphology typical of rhabdoviruses. The virus was confirmed as VHSV by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Sequence analysis of the entire nucleoprotein and glycoprotein genes revealed the virus was a member of the North American genotype of VHSV; however, the isolate was sufficiently distinct to be considered a separate sublineage, suggesting its origin may have been from marine species inhabiting the eastern coastal areas of the USA or Canada.