Surveys among wild marine fish have revealed occurrence of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV) infections in a high number of diverse fish species. In marine aquaculture of rainbow trout, preying on invading wild fish might thus be a risk factor for introduction and adaptation of VHSV and subsequent disease outbreaks. Our objective was to determine whether an oral transmission route for VHSV in rainbow trout exists. Juvenile trout were infected through oral, waterborne and cohabitation transmission routes, using a recombinant virus strain harbouring Renilla luciferase as reporter gene. Viral replication in stomach and kidney tissue was detected through bioluminescence activity of luciferase and qRT‐PCR. Replication was detected in both tissues, irrespective of transmission route. Replication patterns, however, differed among transmission routes. In trout infected through oral transmission, replication was detected in the stomach prior to kidney tissue. In trout infected through waterborne or cohabitation transmission, replication was detected in kidney prior to stomach or in both tissues simultaneously. We demonstrate the existence of an oral transmission route for VHSV in rainbow trout. This implies that preying on invading infected wild fish is a risk factor for introduction of VHSV into marine cultures of rainbow trout.
- Recombinant virus
- Transmission route