In 1998 and 1999, severe episodes of mortality, often reaching 90%, were recorded among cultured populations of ayu Plecoglossus altivelis reared in Japan. The diseased fish showed appetite reduction and abnormal swimming behavior. Histopathological examination revealed proliferative branchitis with enlarged and atypical epithelial cells. Abundant electron-dense, virus-like particles were observed within the cells under transmission electron microscopy. The particles had a cocoon-like shape and ranged in length from 200 to 300 nm, indicating a member of the poxvirus group. These findings suggest the possibility that the mortality events are related to infection of a poxvirus-like virus.
2008 The Japanese Society of Fish Pathology