Catfish face catas­tro­phe

The Weekend Post - - News -

A PATHOGEN which caused dev­as­tat­ing losses in the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try in the US has been de­tected in wild Aus­tralian catfish in the Tully River.

Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity re­searchers, who made the dis­cov­ery, say the pathogen causes the dis­ease en­teric sep­ti­caemia in catfish.

The bac­terium, known as Ed­ward­siella ic­taluri, is con­sid­ered one of the most sig­nif­i­cant pathogens of farmed catfish in the US and has also caused mor­tal­i­ties in farmed and wild fishes in many other parts of the world.

It has pre­vi­ously been de­tected in im­ported fish and aquar­ium fa­cil­i­ties in Aus­tralia but wild species had not been sur­veyed for the dis­ease un­til the Mur­doch study.

The re­searchers say more in­ves­ti­ga­tion is re­quired to de­ter­mine the sus­cep­ti­bil­ity and tol­er­ance of na­tive fish species to the bac­terium.

They also want to clar­ify whether E. ic­taluri is a re­cently in­tro­duced or na­tive strain.

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Alan Lym­bery said if the pathogen af­fected Aus­tralian fish species in a sim­i­lar way to cul­tured catfish in the US, the fresh­wa­ter bio­di­ver­sity of Aus­tralia’s rivers could be im­pacted.

“The pres­ence of E. ic­taluri in wild Aus­tralian fishes may also have eco­nomic con­se­quences,” he said.

“Aus­tralia’s or­na­men­tal fish in­dus­try has been val­ued at $350 mil­lion, with up to 15 mil­lion fishes im­ported and 700,000 ex­ported per year.”

AT RISK: A danger­ous pathogen been de­tected in wild catfish.

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