Mysterious syndrome causing high mortality in wild brown trout in Eastern Switzerland, pathology and search for a possible cause

Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike; Koch, Michel; Seuberlich, Torsten; Birrer, Christoph; Hirschi, Regula; Kugler, Michael (2020). Mysterious syndrome causing high mortality in wild brown trout in Eastern Switzerland, pathology and search for a possible cause. Journal of fish diseases, 43(10), pp. 1317-1324. Wiley 10.1111/jfd.13241

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Since 2016, annually occurring species- specific die-offs of brown trout (Salmo trutta fario) occurred in the Thur river, situated in the Eastern part of Switzerland. These events lead to drastically reduced population densities in the impacted river regions. Clinical signs in brown trout and mortality were restricted to few weeks in August / September. To characterize the syndrome and to find possible causes, from end of March to November 2018, one year old brown trout (Salmo trutta fario) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed to water from Thur river, fish were sampled regularly and screened for infectious agents, including viral metagenomics, and pathology was described. Starting approximately four months post exposure, brown trout showed severe lymphohistiocytic pancarditis and necrotising and haemorrhagic hepatitis. These lesions were recorded until the end of the experiment in November. Rainbow trout were not affected at any point in time. No infectious agents could be identified so far as cause of disease, especially no viral aetiology.
Even if pathogenesis and pathology points in the direction of an infectious agent, a causative relationship could not be confirmed and aetiology remains unclear.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Experimental Clinical Research
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Center for Fish and Wildlife Health (FIWI)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases > Clinical Microbiology

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike, Koch, Michel Christoph, Seuberlich, Torsten, Hirschi, Regula


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture






[UNSPECIFIED] Bundesamt für Umwelt




Heike Schmidt Posthaus

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2020 12:14

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:40

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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