First description of a natural infection with spleen and kidney necrosis virus in zebrafish.
Zebrafish has become a popular research model in the last years, and several diseases affecting zebrafish research facilities have been reported. However, only one case of naturally occurring viral infections was described for this species. In 2015, infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV ) was detected in zebrafish from a research facility in Spain. Affected fish showed lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal swimming, distention of the coelomic cavity and, in the most severe cases, respiratory distress, pale gills and petechial haemorrhages at the base of fins. Cytomegaly was the most relevant histopathological finding in organs and tissues, sometimes associated to degenerative and necrotic changes. ISKNV belongs to the relatively newly defined genus Megalocytivirus , family Iridoviridae, comprising large, icosahedral cytoplasmic DNA viruses. This is the first case of naturally occurring Megalocytivirus infection in zebrafish research facilities, associated with morbidity. The virus has been identified based on both pathologic and genetic evidence, to better understand the pathogenesis of the infection in zebrafish and the phylogenetic relationship with other iridoviruses. Given the ability of megalocytiviruses to cross‐species boundaries, it seems necessary to implement stringent biosecurity practices as these infections may invalidate experimental data and have major impact on laboratory and cultured fish.