Countermeasures against viral diseases of farmed fish
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Farmed fish provide an increasing fraction of the human food supply, and are of major economic importance in many countries. As in the case of terrestrial agriculture, bringing together large numbers of animals of a single species (i.e., monoculture) increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, including viral infections. Aquaculture, in which farmed fish are kept at high population densities in close proximity with wild fish reservoirs, is ideal for the emergence of wild-type pathogens that exist benignly in local wild fish and/or the spreading of aquatic pathogens to wild fish that enter into or come into close proximity with net cages and with fish escaping from them. This paper provides a general review for the nonspecialist of viral diseases of farmed fish and how they could be prevented or treated. It has five principal objectives: (1) to provide an update on the most important and emerging viral diseases of salmonid aquaculture; (2) to review general aspects of innate antiviral defense against virus infections in fish, including recent advances in antiviral signaling; (3) to discuss current principles and practices of vaccinating fish; (4) to review antiviral drugs that have activity against viruses of farmed fish, and current barriers to employing them in aquaculture; and (5) to discuss the growing use of "functional feeds" in salmonid aquaculture to mitigate viral diseases. In conclusion, despite the challenging aquatic environment, it is expected that well thought-out combinations of vaccination and immunostimulants and/or antiviral drugs could provide solid protection against viral diseases of farmed fish.
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