Following field observations of apparent reductions in the severity of POMS in estuaries near Sydney over time we challenged oysters in the lab and found that an isolate from 2011 was more virulent than one from 2015.
Cain G, Liu O, Whittington RJ and and Hick PM. Reduction in Virulence over Time in Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) Microvariants between 2011 and 2015 in Australia. Viruses 13, 946. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13050946.
Summary: Microvariant genotypes of Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) are associated with mass mortality events of Pacific oysters in many countries. The OsHV-1 microvariant emerged in France 2008 and caused significant economic losses as it became endemic and displaced the previously dominant OsHV-1 reference genotype. Recently, considerable genotypic variation has been described for OsHV-1 microvariants, however, less is known about variation in viral phenotype. This study used an in vivo laboratory infection model to assess differences in total cumulative mortality, peak viral load, transmissibility, and dose-response for three OsHV-1 isolates obtained between 2011 and 2015 from endemic waterways in Australia. This followed field observations of apparent reductions in the severity of mass mortalities over this time. Significantly higher hazard of death and cumulative mortality were observed for an isolate obtained in 2011 compared to isolates from 2014–2015. In keeping with other studies, the hazard of death was higher in oysters challenged by injection compared to challenge by cohabitation and the mortality was higher when the initial dose was higher. There was no difference in the quantity of OsHV-1 DNA at time of death that could be related to isolate or dose, suggesting similar pathogenetic processes in the individual oysters that succumbed to end-stage disease. While the isolates examined in this study were biased towards pathogenic types of OsHV-1, as they were collected during disease outbreaks, the variation in virulence that was observed, when combined with prior data on subclinical infections, suggests that surveillance for low virulence genotypes of OsHV-1 would be rewarding. This may lead to new approaches to disease management which utilize controlled exposure to attenuated strains of OsHV-1.
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