Vibrio harveyi and other bacterial pathogens in cultured summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus

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A monitoring program for Vibrio harveyi and other potential bacterial pathogens of summer flounder was conducted at two facilities in the Northeast United States. Bacterial samples were collected from larval and juvenile fish and live-feed, and identified using API 20E biochemical profiles and 16S rDNA sequencing. Histopathological examinations were conducted in order to relate histological changes with the presence of potential bacterial pathogens. V. harveyi, Vibrio ichthyoenteri, and Photobacterium damselae subsp. damselae, three known pathogens of flatfish, were isolated from diseased summer flounder. Although a high proportion of juvenile summer flounder showed microscopic signs of disease, the presence of these potential bacterial pathogens in fish was not associated with large-scale mortalities. An outbreak of flounder infectious necrotizing enteritis with 30% cumulative mortality occurred when juveniles were transported to a new facility. Isolates of V. harveyi from the disease outbreak were genetically different from the isolates from the commercial hatchery. V. harveyi isolates from both facilities were pathogenic to summer flounder by intraperitoneal injection. P. damselae subsp. damselae, V. ichthyoenteri, and Vibrio scophthalmi, also found in fish with gross lesions, were not pathogenic to juvenile summer flounder by intraperitoneal injection. Our research shows that several potential bacterial pathogens are associated with morbidity and mortality in summer flounder larvae and juveniles, especially in situations of stress. Increased knowledge about the environmental conditions that lead to disease, as well as the interactions of V. harveyi with other microbial species, could lead to the development of management strategies in summer flounder farms. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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