Assessment of a Serologic Diagnostic Test and Kinetics of Antibody Development in Northern Pike Experimentally Infected with Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus

Whitney A. Thiel, Kathy L. Toohey-Kurth, Bridget B. Baker, Megan Finley, Tony L. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) is an ongoing cause of disease and mortality in freshwater fishes across the Great Lakes region of the Midwestern United States. Antibody detection assays such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) are nonlethal serological methods that can have significantly shorter turnaround times than the current validated viral detection diagnostic methodology for VHSV: cell culture with confirmation by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This study evaluated an ELISA that detects nonneutralizing antinucleocapsid antibodies to VHSV in Northern Pike Esox lucius. Juvenile Northern Pike were experimentally infected with VHSV by intraperitoneal injection. The infected fish were monitored for 12 weeks for signs of disease, and weekly serum samples were obtained. An analysis of the survival data showed that mortality occurred significantly more quickly in inoculated fish than in control fish. Fish that were infected by injection showed a significant increase in antibody response by 2 weeks postinfection. However, variation in the rate and pattern of antibody response among the infected fish was high at any given point. The optimum window for detecting antibodies in Northern Pike is 2–12 weeks postinfection, which generally follows the median time to appearance of clinical signs (21 d postinfection). The receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis showed the ELISA to have a sensitivity of 80.5% and a specificity of 63.2% in Northern Pike, but these values can be adjusted by choosing different percent inhibition cutoffs, which may facilitate the use of the test for specific management goals. The results of this study offer insights into the disease progression and immune kinetics of VHSV, including interindividual variation, which will aid in the management of this economically important virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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