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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 38:75-79 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/dao038075

Shedding of Renibacterium salmoninarum by infected chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tschawytscha

Connie L. McKibben, Ronald J. Pascho*

U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Western Fisheries Research Center, 6505 NE 65th Street, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
*Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Laboratory studies of the transmission and pathogenesis of Renibacterium salmoninarum may describe more accurately what is occurring in the natural environment if test fish are infected by waterborne R. salmoninarum shed from infected fish. To quantify bacterial shedding by chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tschawytscha at 13°C in freshwater, groups of fish were injected intraperitoneally with R. salmoninarum at either 1.3 x 106 colony forming units (CFU) fish-1 (high-dose injection group) or 1.5 x 103 CFU fish-1 (low-dose injection group). R. salmoninarum infection levels were measured in the exposed fish by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (BKD-ELISA). At regular intervals for 30 d, the numbers of R. salmoninarum shed by the injected fish were calculated on the basis of testing water samples by the membrane filtration-fluorescent antibody test (MF-FAT) and bacteriological culture. Mean BKD-ELISA optical densities (ODs) for fish in the low-dose injection group were not different from those of control fish (p > 0.05), and no R. salmoninarum were detected in water samples taken up to 30 d after injection of fish in the low-dose group. By 12 d after injection a proportion of the fish from the high-dose infection group had high (BKD-ELISA OD >= 1.000) to severe (BKD-ELISA OD >= 2.000) R. salmoninarum infection levels, and bacteria were detected in the water by both tests. However, measurable levels of R. salmoninarum were not consistently detected in the water until a proportion of the fish maintained high to severe infection levels for an additional 8 d. The concentrations of R. salmoninarum in the water samples ranged from undetectable up to 994 cells ml-1 on the basis of the MF-FAT, and up to 1850 CFU ml-1 on the basis of bacteriological culture. The results suggest that chinook salmon infected with R. salmoninarum by injection of approximately 1 x106 CFU fish-1 can be used as the source of infection in cohabitation challenges beginning 20 d after injection.

KEY WORDS: Renibacterium salmoninarum · Bacterial shedding · Cohabitation challenge

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