Source and transmission of OsHV-1

We analysed mortality data from over 22,000 individual oysters that we’re examined individually at daily, or weekly to fortnightly intervals, and used computer models to make inferences about how the virus is transmitted, and reviewed other information to propose its source for both index cases, and for recurrent seasonal outbreaks.

Whittington RJ, Paul-Pont I, Evans E, Hick P and Dhand N (2018).  Counting the dead to determine the source and transmission of the marine herpesvirus OsHV-1 in Crassostrea gigas. Veterinary Research 49:34


Marine herpesviruses are responsible for epizootics in economically, ecologically and culturally significant taxa. The recent emergence of microvariants of Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV‐1) in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas has resulted in socioeconomic losses in Europe, New Zealand and Australia however, there is no information on their origin or mode of transmission. These factors need to be understood because they influence the way the disease may be prevented and controlled. Mortality data obtained from experimental populations of C. gigas during natural epizootics of OsHV‐1 disease in Australia were analysed qualitatively. In addition we compared actual mortality data with those from a Reed–Frost model of direct transmission and analysed incubation periods using Sartwell’s method to test for the type of epizootic, point source or propagating. We concluded that outbreaks were initiated from an unknown environmental source which is unlikely to be farmed oysters in the same estuary. While direct oyster‐to‐oyster transmission may occur in larger oysters if they are in close proximity (< 40 cm), it did not explain the observed epizootics, point source exposure and indirect transmission being more common and important. A conceptual model is proposed for OsHV‐1 index case source and transmission, leading to endemicity with recurrent seasonal outbreaks. The findings suggest that prevention and control of OsHV‐1 in C. gigas will require multiple interventions. OsHV‐1 in C. gigas, which is a sedentary animal once beyond the larval stage, is an informative model when considering marine host‐herpesvirus relationships.

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