Temagami Stewardship Council


To preserve, protect, restore and improve, the natural resources and environment of Lake Temagami & Cross Lake !
Fisheries News
October 13, 2005

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources received notification on September 16, 2005, that Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) virus was diagnosed in association with a mass mortality of freshwater drum in Lake Ontario, Bay of Quinte, in the spring of 2005.

There is no indication that this virus is a threat to public health. 

This may be the first time VHS has been detected in a freshwater species outside marine or estuarine waters in Canada, and is the first report of VHS in Ontario and the Great Lakes basin. The source of the virus in the Bay of Quinte is unknown.

The freshwater and marine European isolates of VHS have had a serious impact on the European aquaculture industry (primarily rainbow trout). The Makah or ‘North American’ strain of VHS found in marine and estuarine waters of the Pacific United States and Canada has proven to be less virulent to salmon and trout species, but it has been associated with significant fish mortality in the wild (e.g. Pacific herring in Alaska). 

The east coast marine/estuarine VHS found in Atlantic Canada also appears to be less virulent among salmon and trout. It has been found in the wild in mummichog, stickleback, striped bass and brown trout, but has not been associated with a mass mortality event. The east coast VHS has been found in the Miramichi drainage basin but has not been diagnosed in wild salmon from the Miramichi River. To date, it has not been found in commercial salmon stocks in Atlantic Canada. 

The DFO Gulf Fisheries Centre in Moncton has examined the isolates from the Bay of Quinte fish and determined that the virus is definitely a North American strain, and probably east coast related, more than west coast-related. DFO is continuing to work towards a more conclusive analysis. 

If the Bay of Quinte isolate is determined to be a new freshwater strain, then little is known about species susceptibility or virulence. Early lab results suggest that the Bay of Quinte isolate is an opportunistic infection expressed as a result of abnormally high water temperatures in late spring/early summer this year. Further analysis and research will need to be carried out with respect to virulence and host-specificity.

MNR is working closely with DFO and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to further characterize the Bay of Quinte VHS, isolate and to determine what, if any, action is warranted. 
Dr. Sharon McGladdery
National Aquatic Animal Health – Science
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ph: 613-991-6855
Fx: 613-993-7665

Emergency Response: 
Dr. Sharon McGladdery
National Aquatic Animal Health – Science
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ph: 613-991-6855
Fx: 613-993-7665
Implications of VHS on Fisheries Management Activities in Ontario
Lisa Miller-Dodd
A/Coordinator – Fish Health and Aquaculture
Fish Culture Section
Ministry of Natural Resources
Ph: 705-755-1928
Fx: 705-755-1957

Prepared by: Lisa Miller-Dodd
A/Coordinator, Fish Health and Aquaculture