Major boost for vaccine against deadly catfish disease

Liza Mayer
January 10, 2018
Fish infected with columnaris. The disease is one of the biggest threats to farmed catfish
Fish infected with columnaris. The disease is one of the biggest threats to farmed catfish Auburn University
Researchers at Auburn University are ready to field-test a vaccine against the deadly columnaris disease that can affect nearly all freshwater fish species and causes millions of dollars in annual losses in catfish aquaculture alone.

Lab trials over the past seven years have shown the Auburn vaccine has outperformed the only vaccine currently available on the market, the researchers said. It also targets the two types of bacteria that cause columnaris disease, Type I and the more destructive and more prevalent Type II. Currently available vaccine on the market addresses only Type I.

In vaccine trials of Nile tilapia and catfish, the vaccine increased survival rates by 66 and 17 percent, respectively, over the currently available vaccine, reported the Auburn University College of Agriculture paper.

Field-testing of the vaccine is funded by a $321,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. It will take place in 400 acres of Auburn University ponds.

“At this point in our research, we need data on a larger scale to successfully commercialize the vaccine,” research team leader Cova Arias told the Alabama Newscenter. “We will use this most recent grant to fulfill our gap of information.”

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