Prevalence of piscine orthoreovirus and salmonid alphavirus in sea-caught returning adult Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) in northern Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) caused by piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) and pancreas disease (PD) caused by salmonid alphavirus (SAV) are among the most prevalent viral diseases of Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway. There are limited data about the impact of disease in farmed salmon on wild salmon populations. Therefore, the prevalence of PRV and SAV in returning salmon caught in six sea sites was determined using real‐time RT‐PCR analyses. Of 419 salmon tested, 15.8% tested positive for PRV, while none were positive for SAV. However, scale reading revealed that 10% of the salmon had escaped from farms. The prevalence of PRV in wild salmon (8%) was significantly lower than in farm escapees (86%), and increased with fish length (proxy for age). Sequencing of the S1 gene of PRV from 39 infected fish revealed a mix of genotypes. The observed increase in PRV prevalence with fish age and the lack of phylogeographic structure of the virus could be explained by virus transmission in the feeding areas. Our results highlight the need for studies about the prevalence of PRV and other pathogens in Atlantic salmon in its oceanic phase.