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Herpesvirus that caused epizootic mortality in 1995 and 1998 in pilchard, Sardinops sagax neopilchardus (Steindachner), in Australia is now endemic

Whittington, R.J., Crockford, M., Jordan, D. and Jones, B. (2008) Herpesvirus that caused epizootic mortality in 1995 and 1998 in pilchard, Sardinops sagax neopilchardus (Steindachner), in Australia is now endemic. Journal of Fish Diseases, 31 (2). pp. 97-105.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2761.2007.00869.x
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Abstract

Propagating epizootics due to Pilchard herpesvirus (PHV) occurred in the Australian population of pilchard, Sardinops sagax neopilchardus (Steindachner) (Clupeidae), in 1995 and 1998–99, with up to 60% losses. No mortality events have been evident in the ensuing 7 years, one reason for which could be that PHV is now endemic. During 2004, a survey was conducted to establish if PHV was present in pilchards in Australia. The pilchard is a highly active, pelagic schooling fish which is found in subpopulations, creating difficulties for the conduct of surveys. It occurs in Australian coastal waters and embayments below about 25 °S latitude, feeds on plankton and is predated by birds, mammals and larger fish. It reaches sexual maturity at 2 years of age, spawns at sea, enters embayments when about 5 months old and returns to sea when about 1 year old. It may live for 6–9 years, reaching a maximum length of 200 mm. It forms schools and may travel up to 30 km per day. Pilchards aggregate in mobile shoals of fish containing large highly mobile schools, which interact randomly and exchange individuals. Four subpopulations were defined for the purposes of this survey based on differences in biological characteristics: south-eastern Queensland/northern New South Wales (NSW), Victoria/South Australia (SA), south coast Western Australia (SWA) and west coast Western Australia (WWA). Specimens were obtained from the catch of commercial fishermen using random sampling where possible. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of PHV was performed after appraising the suitability of all available tests according to their impact on sample size requirements, total survey costs and logistical constraints. In the analysis, estimates of true prevalence (TP) of infection and 95% confidence limits were adjusted from the apparent prevalence estimates provided by PCR results. Percentage TP of PHV and corresponding 95% confidence intervals for the four subpopulations: NSW, SA, SWA and WWA were thus estimated as 0 (0–1.5), 31 (22–43), 42 (31–55) and 29 (20–41), respectively. PHV is now endemic in Australian populations of pilchard. Implications of the findings for fisheries management are discussed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Copyright: 2008 The Authors
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/8944
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