The virulence of 5 European and 1 North American isolate of infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) was compared by infecting female sibling rainbow trout ('lsle of Man' strain) of different weights and ages (2, 20 and 50 g). The fish were exposed to 104 TCID50 IHNV per ml of water by immersion, and the mortality was recorded for 28 d. Two new IHNV isolates from Germany were included in the investigation. One was isolated from European eels kept at 23degreesC (+/-2degreesC) and the other was not detectable by immunofluorescence with commercially available monoclonal antibodies recognising the viral G protein. The results showed that IHNV isolates of high or low virulence persisted in rainbow trout of all ages/weights for 28 d, with the exception of fish over 15 g in the eel IHNV (DF [diagnostic fish] 13/98)-infected groups from which the virus could not be reisolated on Day 28. The smallest fish were most susceptible to an infection with any of the IHNV isolates, The lowest cumulative mortality (18%) was observed in fingerlings infected with the North American isolate HAG (obtained from Hagerman Valley), and the highest mortality (100%) in DF 04/99 infected fish. The DF 04/99 and O-13/95 viruses caused mortality in fish independent of their weight or age. The isolates FR-32/87 and I-4008 were virulent in fish up to a weight of 20 g and caused no mortality in larger fish. In the IHNV HAG- and DF 13/98 (eel)-infected rainbow trout, no signs of disease were observed in fish weighing between 15 and 50 g. An age/weight related susceptibility of rainbow trout was demonstrated under the defined conditions for all IHNV isolates tested.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 2003, Vol 55, Issue 3, p. 205-210