Epidemiological aspects of Aeromonas salmonicida in the marine environment
The epidemiology of Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida in the marine environment was investigated. Nutrient resuscitation and infectivity studies did not support a previous claim of dormancy in A. salmonicida and validated the use of colony-forming units (cfu) in survival studies. Survival of A. salmonicida in seawater was assessed and found to be of short duration «10 days). Survival of the bacterium in non-sterile sediment, obtained from beneath a salmon cage, appeared to be limited. The minimum infective dose of A. salmonicida to Atlantic salmon in short duration (1-3 days) bath exposure in sea water was 10' cfu ml-I. Prolonged exposure for three weeks resulted in infection with 102 cfu ml- I. Intragastric intubation of the bacterium established infection with doses >105 cfu. Shedding of A. salmonicida from infected salmon was 105-108 cfu/fish/hr. Survival and shedding results were combined in a computer model. A. salmonicida was predicted to travel >6 km suspended within the water column of a sea loch. Covert infection in freshwater farmed salmon was assessed by ELISA and the standard stress test. Results indicated that ELISA may be useful as a routine monitor of furunculosis infection. The efficacy of dot-blot immunoassay was found to be 108 cfu A. salmonicida in fish kidney tissue. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and salmon mucus were not found to inhibit the growth of A. salmonicida supporting recent evidence that fish skin is a site of carriage. In vitro studies suggested that trout serum proteins do not confer protection from fish antibody on A. salmonicida in covert infections. Preliminary work was undertaken to develop a specific DNA probe for A. salmonicida which will allow its detection in environmental samples and carrier fish. A gene library of A. salmonicida was constructed in lambda gtll and screened for "A"-protein with antibodies.