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Vet Microbiol. 2007 May 16;122(1-2):1-15. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Streptococcus iniae: an aquatic pathogen of global veterinary significance and a challenging candidate for reliable vaccination.

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School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Streptococcus iniae has become one the most serious aquatic pathogens in the last decade causing high losses in farmed marine and freshwater finfish in warmer regions. Although first identified in 1976 from a captive Amazon freshwater dolphin, from which it derives its name, disease outbreaks had most likely been occurring for several decades in marine aquaculture in Japan. S. iniae is globally distributed throughout warm water finfish aquaculture. In common with other encapsulated beta-haemolytic streptococci and in direct contradiction to the phenomenal success story of bacterial vaccines in finfish aquaculture, control of S. iniae by vaccination has met with limited success. Thus, antibiotic usage is the current practice for reducing mortality and consequent economic loss. Vaccine failure appears to result in part from serotypic variation and, whilst 2 serotypes have been named, variation would appear to be more complex. S. iniae also has zoonotic potential, with human infections identified in the USA, Canada, and throughout Asia. In humans, infection is clearly opportunistic with all cases to date associated with direct infection of puncture wounds during preparation of contaminated fish, and generally in elderly or immunocompromised individuals. Significant progress has been made in terms of research into pathogenic mechanisms of S. iniae, with recent research elucidating the role of capsule in virulence for fish through antiopsonic activity. In light of this recent coverage in the literature, the present review centres on areas of direct veterinary interest including identification, epidemiology, therapy and prevention in farmed finfish. Clearly as the prevalence of S. iniae and associated economic losses continue to increase, further work towards developing a reliable vaccine is essential. This would appear to require a much better understanding of cell-surface variability amongst S. iniae isolates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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