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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Pathogen Surveillance, Control and Vaccine Use on Fish Farms in the Southeastern U.S

Location: Aquatic Animal Health Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this project is to conduct pathogen surveillance, control and development and use of vaccines on fish farms in the Southeastern U.S. The work will include surveillance and monitoring, development of prevention or control methods to prevent the spread of diseases, and development and evaluation of vaccines against virulent strains of Aeromonas hydrophila.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Work closely with the Auburn University's Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures (AU-DFAA) to conduct pathogen surveillance, epidemiology, control and vaccine research. By applying appropriate tools of epidemiology, pathogen control and vaccinology in responses to new outbreaks of A. hydrophila, it is possible to identify putative factors associated with fish disease outbreaks. Aeromonas hydrophila surveillance and epidemiological research will be conducted using diagnostic tests. ARS will be responsible for epidemiology (including surveillance and monitoring research) and work closely with the professional staff at Fish Farming Center and diagnostic laboratory of AU-DFAA. AU-DFAA will assist ARS with identification of, and access to, work site farms. AU-DFAA and ARS will be responsible for identification of A. hydrophila isolates collected from these and other affected farms. Molecular, microbiological and vaccinology methods will be used to develop fish vaccines that may be given in mass scale. ARS will be responsible for the development of the vaccine and its evaluation in experimental wet laboratory trials. The vaccines will be evaluated under field conditions in farm ponds and in pond raceways. ARS and AU-DFAA will be equally responsible for vaccination and monitoring of catfish for effectiveness of vaccination at the work site farms and experimental ponds. Prior to presentation or publication of data resulting from collaborative efforts related to this agreement, ARS and AU-DFAA must agree to order of authorship content. This approach will expedite the control of A. hydrophila that is responsible for significant economic losses in the Southeastern U.S. fish farms. Furthermore, the public will benefit by having a readily available safe source of protein.


3.Progress Report:

Aquatic animal farmers in the U.S. continue to identify disease as a major problem in the industry. Several areas of inadequate research are: rapid identification of pathogens, epidemiology of infectious diseases, pathogenesis (i.e. mechanism of disease) of aquatic animal pathogens, and vaccine effectiveness in field studies. The overall objective for this project was to increase our knowledge on main catfish pathogens and to provide fish health specialists with better tools for catfish diseases diagnosis and better management practices.

During this reporting year work was done to understand columnaris pathogenesis through pathological observations. Work has provided a description of saddle-lessions and in situ observations of Flavobacterium columnare have been described in catfish, zebrafish and bluegill.

One publication has resulted from the work covered under this specific cooperative agreement which has input from ARS cooperating scientists.


Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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