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Rickettsia-like organisms (R.L.O.) infections of fin-fish

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Rickettsia-like organisms (R.L.O.) infections of finfish have been reported in several salmonid and non-salmonid species in both fresh and seawater since 1939. This organism was not considered of economical importance to the global fin-fish aquaculture industry until Piscirickettsia salmonis was confirmed as the etiology agent of mass mortalities in the Chile during the 1990's. All cultured salmonid species can be infected by this intracellular bacteria and in diseased fish it may provoke a systemic response affecting most internal organs, but preferentially targeting the liver.

For other R.L.O's the pathology may vary depending on both the imunogenicity of the R.L.O. and the species offish affected; eg, R.L.O. infections of the Hawaiian tilapia result in a systemic granulomatous inflammatory response. Initial published reports on R.L.O's affecting cultured juvenile sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) were described from sea-cages, at rearing temperatures ranging from 12-15°C, in the Mediterranean off the coast of France. In this outbreak the reported pathology was restricted to the mesencephalic regions of the brain. Subsequendy, the organism was identified from cultured sea bass of the coast of Greece, with moribund fish showing similar pathology; i.e brain, olfactory nerve and internal organs inflammation. These samples were preliminarily screened by immunohistochemistry and found to cross react with antisera to P. salmonis. This finding was also confirmed by demonstrating antigenic similarities between P. salmonis and European sea bass R.L.O. isolates from Greece. Recendy, a systemic type of the disease was demonstrated by histopathology in juvenile cultured juvenile sea bass. The meningitis, as well as other internal lesions affecting sea bass, is nearly identical to that seen in for R.L.O. infected Adantic salmon from British Columbia, Canada. Similar lesions have been noted for piscirickettsiosis in both Chilean and Eastern Canadian outbreaks: i.e liver, pancreas, retina, brain stem, meninges and the lamina propria of intestine.


Rickettsia-like organisms (R.L.O.); marine fish; Mediterranean fish; cultured fish

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