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Aust Vet J. 2006 May;84(5):173-7.

Infection with Photobacterium damselae subspecies damselae and Vibrio harveyi in snapper, Pagrus auratus with bloat.

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Research Division, Department of Fisheries, P.O. Box 20, North Perth, Western Australia, 6920.



To diagnose the cause of chronic, low mortality associated with bloat in tanks of snapper at an aquaculture facility.


A clinical, pathological and microbiological investigation into the cause of a low number of ongoing mortalities associated with bloat in snapper at an aquaculture facility is outlined. Necropsy, histology, microbiology and a comparison of haematology and water analysis from affected and unaffected fish and holding tanks, respectively were conducted.


Affected moribund fish were found in lateral or dorsal recumbency floating on the water surface within 24 hours of death. Photobacterium damselae subspecies damselae was isolated from intestinal contents and Vibrio harveyi from the blood of affected fish and both were isolated from culture water. Both V harveyi and P damselae subspecies damselae isolates were sensitive to tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and sulphamethoxazole plus trimethoprim. Environmental parameters such as pH and dissolved oxygen were similar in tanks of affected and unaffected fish. Affected fish had gas distended swimbladders, anaemia, and the intestines were diffusely distended with a clear, pale yellowish fluid. Livers were mottled tan and green in a zonal pattern. Histologically the intestines of fish from tanks suffering mortality had a moderate granulocytic enteritis with oedema and infiltrations with eosinophilic granule cells that were also present as an infiltrate in the gills. There were elevated numbers of melanomacrophage centres and haemosiderin deposits in the spleen, kidney and liver of affected fish.


Vibrio harveyi and Photobacterium damselae subspecies damselae infection should be recognised as potential pathogens of snapper held in water of less than optimal quality.

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