Rock bream iridovirus (RBIV) replication in rock bream (Oplegnathus fasciatus) exposed for different time periods to susceptible water temperatures

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Rock bream iridovirus (RBIV) is a member of the Megalocytivirus genus that causes severe mortality to rock bream. Water temperature is known to affect the immune system and susceptibility of fish to RBIV infection. In this study, we evaluated the time dependent virus replication pattern and time required to completely eliminate virus from the rock bream body against RBIV infection at different water temperature conditions. The rock bream was exposed to the virus and held at 7 (group A1), 4 (group A2) and 2 days (group A3) at 23 °C before the water temperature was reduced to 17 °C. A total of 28% mortality was observed 24–35 days post infection (dpi) in only the 7 day exposure group at 23 °C. In all 23 °C exposure groups, virus replication peaked at 20 to 22 dpi (106–107/μl). In recovery stages (30–100 dpi), the virus copy number was gradually reduced, from 106 to 101 with faster decreases in the shorter exposure period group at 23 °C. When the water temperature was increased in surviving fish from 17 to 26 °C at 70 dpi, they did not show any mortality or signs of disease and had low virus copy numbers (below 102/μl). Thus, fish need at least 50 days from peaked RBIV levels (approximately 20–25 dpi) to inhibit the virus. This indicates that maintaining the fish at low water temperature (17 °C) for 70 days is sufficient to eradicate RBIV from fish body. Thus, RBIV could be eliminated slowly from the fish body and the virus may be completely eliminated under the threshold of causing mortality.

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