Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) is an economically very important fish disease in the northern hemisphere. When the VHS virus was first isolated in Denmark 50 yr ago, more than 80% of the 800 Danish fish farms were considered to be infected, but vigilant surveillance and eradication programmes led to a drastic reduction in prevalence, and finally, to complete eradication of VHS. Denmark thus obtained official status as an approved VHS-free member state within the European Union in November 2013. Data on outbreaks within the country have been collected since 1970, and here we combined these data with the geographical coordinates of fish farms to identify clusters of high disease prevalence and other risk factors. Our analyses revealed a statistically significant cluster in the southwestern part of the country, which persisted throughout the study period. Being situated within such a cluster was a significant risk factor for VHS. For freshwater rainbow trout farms situated inland, the number of upstream farms was a determining risk factor for VHS, as was distance to the nearest VHS-infected farm and year. Whether the farm used fresh or marine water in production did not have any influence on the risk of VHS, when accounting for whether the farm was situated inside a cluster of high risk. This information can be used when implementing risk-based surveillance programmes.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 2014, Vol 109, Issue 2, p. 87-97