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Dis Aquat Organ. 2002 Mar 11;48(2):149-53.

Rickettsia-like organism associated with tremor disease and mortality of the Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis.

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  • 1College of Biological Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, China. wenwang@njnu.edu.cn

Abstract

We report the discovery of a rickettsia-like organism (RLO) in cultured freshwater Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis. The RLO caused tremor disease and was apparently responsible for a mass mortality (30 to 90%) in 2 provinces in southeast China. Moribund crabs were investigated from different districts during outbreaks in 1999 and 2000. With electron microscopy, 3 different pathogens were detected in moribund crabs: a rickettsia-like organism (RLO), virus-like particles (VLP) and a microsporidian-like protozoan (MLP). Based on the high prevalence, infection intensity and cytopathological signs, the RLO was considered to be the probable cause of the high mortality. Both VLP and MLP occurred at low prevalences and were considered secondary infections. The RLO was 0.22 to 0.35 microm in diameter, granular or clavate, bounded by a cell wall and membrane, and possessed no nucleus but a nucleoid was present. When dividing, RLOs occurred in irregular shapes, such as dumbbells, awls, and crescents. The RLOs exhibited a predilection for muscle and connective tissues and were probably transported to various tissues and organs by hemocytes.

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