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Viral hemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) evolution and adaptation potential in farmed Atlantic salmon in British Columbia



Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) occurs in British Columbia’s Atlantic salmon aquaculture sea-cage industry. Molecular epidemiological studies have demonstrated that the source of VHS virus in farmed fish is often a result of ‘spillover’ from a wild reservoir, likely from infected Pacific herring and sardine. To date, the detection of VHSV in farmed salmon has yet to be associated with significant disease. Nevertheless, with the annual finding of VHSV within Atlantic salmon and VHSVs potential for rapid mutation rates, concerns arise from the ability of the naturally occurring marine VHSV to adapt and become pathogenic to farmed Atlantic salmon. This project will compare VHSV isolates obtained from Pacific herring and Atlantic salmon infected under controlled laboratory conditions to characterize the viral mutant spectrum present in infected fish and identify the mechanisms or genetic background facilitating inter-species transmission of VHSV. This project will be an important step in determining the agent responsible for VHSV disease transmission and key to controlling virulence of the disease in Atlantic salmon.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)



Principal investigator

Kyle Garver
Research scientist, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC

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