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Researchers Identify Poxvirus as Gill Disease Culprit

23 September 2015, at 1:00am

NORWAY - Over the last 20 years a special type of gill disease has ravaged fish farms and given high acute mortality. Researchers have now identified a special virus as the culprit, a poxvirus.

The findings were recently published in the prestigious Journal of Virology.

Researchers at the National Veterinary Institute, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, managed to identify and characterize the virus by genome sequencing.

This is the first genome-sequencing of the pox virus in fish ever. In addition, the National Veterinary Institute recently developed a test that is very useful to monitor the incidence of the virus.

The findings suggest that problems related to the poxvirus is greater than previously thought.

"For us to have sustainable development in the industry disease control is essential. We suspect it is under farming conditions that infection pressure becomes so great that serious mortality occurs, but it is worrying if the virus is spread from farmed fish to wild fish," said Ole Bendik Dale, a researcher at the National Veterinary Institute and one of the main authors of the scientific paper.

"Identification and characterization of the virus and the specific test we have developed, can help us to get a better overview of the situation and can help reduce disease. New knowledge about the poxviruses, will be useful for further research in the field virology.

"The identification of the virus that we can classify as primeval poxviruses provide us substantial insight into how the virus has evolved."

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