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News

Salmon farm killer tamed by bug bug

Society For General Microbiology : 06 April, 2005  (Company News)
Newly hatched salmon and trout can be devastated by bacteria, destroying the livelihoods and commercial viability of fish farms. But now US scientists hope that they have found a way to substantially reduce fish deaths without using expensive antibiotics or vaccines, according to research at the Society for General Microbiology's 156th Meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
Newly hatched salmon and trout can be devastated by bacteria, destroying the livelihoods and commercial viability of fish farms. But now US scientists hope that they have found a way to substantially reduce fish deaths without using expensive antibiotics or vaccines, according to research at the Society for General Microbiology's 156th Meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

The methods currently used to control the problematic fish-farm bacteria, Aeromonas salmonicida, can cause problems through growing antibiotic resistance, or are too labour intensive for routine commercial use, such as vaccine injection.

Scientists from Washington's Evergreen State College are developing a method to kill these pathogenic bacteria by using viruses called 'bacteriophages' that are their natural enemies. One type of bacteriophage they have now identified can reduce the number of A. salmonicida bacteria to one ten-thousandth of previous levels in a few hours.

'We are fully characterizing several of these viruses which attack bacteria and preparing a cocktail of them for trial experiments in collaboration with the North West Indian Fisheries and Aberdeen High School, here near the Pacific Ocean,' says Dr Elizabeth Kutter of Evergreen State College. 'We are hoping for two key results: fewer salmon and trout deaths, and reducing the levels of antibiotics released into the environment, thereby reducing future resistance.'
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