DAO 108:201-209 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02703

Vibrio vulnificus outbreaks in Dutch eel farms since 1996: strain diversity and impact

O. L. M. Haenen1,*, E. van Zanten2, R. Jansen3, I. Roozenburg1, M. Y. Engelsma1, A. Dijkstra4, S. A. Boers3, M. Voorbergen-Laarman1, A. V. M. Möller

1National Reference Laboratory of Fish, Crustacean and Shellfish Diseases, Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR, 8200 AB Lelystad, the Netherlands
2Laboratory for Infectious Diseases, 9700 RM Groningen, the Netherlands, and Martini Hospital, 9728 NT Groningen, the Netherlands
3Department of Molecular Biology, Regional Laboratory of Public Health, 2035 RC Haarlem, the Netherlands
4Sanquin Blood Supply, 8025 BT Zwolle, the Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Vibrio vulnificus is a potentially zoonotic bacterial pathogen of fish, which can infect humans (causing necrotic fasciitis). We analysed 24 V. vulnificus isolates (from 23 severe eel disease outbreaks in 8 Dutch eel farms during 1996 to 2009, and 1 clinical strain from an eel farmer) for genetic correlation and zoonotic potential. Strains were typed using biotyping and molecular typing by high-throughput multilocus sequence typing (hiMLST) and REP-PCR (Diversilab®). We identified 19 strains of biotype 1 and 5 of biotype 2 (4 from eels, 1 from the eel farmer), that were subdivided into 8 MLST types (ST) according to the international standard method. This is the first report of V. vulnificus biotype 1 outbreaks in Dutch eel farms. Seven of the 8 STs, of unknown zoonotic potential, were newly identified and were deposited in the MLST database. The REP-PCR and the MLST were highly concordant, indicating that the REP-PCR is a useful alternative for MLST. The strains isolated from the farmer and his eels were ST 112, a known potential zoonotic strain. Antimicrobial resistance to cefoxitin was found in most of the V. vulnificus strains, and an increasing resistance to quinolones, trimethoprim + sulphonamide and tetracycline was found over time in strain ST 140. Virulence testing of isolates from diseased eels is recommended, and medical practitioners should be informed about the potential risk of zoonotic infections by V. vulnificus from eels for the prevention of infection especially among high-risk individuals. Additional use of molecular typing methods such as hiMLST and Diversilab® is recommended for epidemiological purposes during V. vulnificus outbreaks.


KEY WORDS: Vibriosis · Biotyping · Molecular typing · Anguilla anguilla · Clinics · Zoonosis · Antibiotics · Necrotic fasciitis


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Cite this article as: Haenen OLM, van Zanten E, Jansen R, Roozenburg I and others (2014) Vibrio vulnificus outbreaks in Dutch eel farms since 1996: strain diversity and impact. Dis Aquat Org 108:201-209. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02703

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