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Vet Microbiol. 2009 Apr 14;136(1-2):180-3. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

Aspects of the natural history and virulence of S. agalactiae infection in Nile tilapia.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Lavras, Lavras, MG 37200-000, Brazil.


Streptococcus agalactiae is an emerging pathogen in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) worldwide. To investigate aspects of the epidemiology, transmission and virulence of S. agalactiae infections, nine outbreaks of meningoencephalitis and septicemia in Nile tilapia farms in Brazil were analyzed. Records from the outbreaks revealed large variation in the weight of fish affected, high mortality, and disease occurrence at water temperatures above 26 degrees C. S. agalactiae was isolated from diseased fish from all farms, and 29 strains were identified by phenotypic tests and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Five strains from different geographic origins were selected to determine the 50% lethal dose (LD(50)). All strains were highly virulent; for example, strain SA 20-06 had an LD(50) of 90 bacteria. To investigate S. agalactiae transmission, we conducted cohabitation assays with diseased and healthy fish and fish challenges using an immersion bath or gill inoculation. Strain SA 20-06 was used in all assays. The disease was reproduced with characteristic clinical signs and S. agalactiae was reisolated in all trials. The infection route studies were identified as by direct contact or through the water. In conclusion, S. agalactiae, a major pathogen of Nile tilapia in Brazil, exhibited high virulence, regardless of the geographic origin of the isolated strains.

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