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But the water that they grow in can be filled with disease-causing microorganisms that can affect both oysters and humans.
Today a deadly herpes virus, Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (Os HV-1), is threatening Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas), the world's most popular and valuable oyster species.
Given the spread of the Os HV-1 microvariants elsewhere around the world, it may only be a matter of time until they reach US coastal bays or other nonimpacted oyster growing areas.
We spent the summer of 2017 conducting experiments in Tomales Bay to determine whether any cultured U. oysters species are resistant to Os HV-1, and soon will also conduct laboratory challenges with Os HV-1 microvariants.
They also are intriguing to study from a health perspective.Since then, similar variants have caused mass mortalities of oysters in many European countries.A 2010 outbreak in England killed over eight million oysters.These viruses are spreading globally, causing mass mortalities of Pacific oysters.An Os HV-1 microvariant was first detected in France in 2008, where it killed 80 to 100 per cent of affected oyster beds.