Environmental screening of Aeromonas hydrophila, Mycobacterium spp., and Pseudocapillaria tomentosa in zebrafish systems

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Health monitoring systems are developed and used in zebrafish research facilities because pathogens of Danio rerio such as Aeromonas hydrophila, Mycobacterium spp., and Pseudocapillaria tomentosa have the potential to impair animal welfare and research. The fish are typically analyzed post mortem to detect microbes. The use of sentinels is a suggested way to improve the sensitivity of the surveillance and to reduce the number of animals to sample. The setting of a pre-filtration sentinel tank out of a recirculating system is described. The technique is developed to prevent water pollution and to represent the fish population by a careful selection of age, gender, and strains. In order to use the minimum number of animals, techniques to screen the environment are also detailed. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) on surface sump swabs is used to significantly improve the detection of some prevalent and pathogenic mycobacterial species such as Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium haemophilum, and Mycobacterium chelonae. Another environmental method consists of processing the sludge at the bottom of a holding tank or sump to look for P. tomentosa eggs. This is a cheap and fast technique that can be applied in quarantine where a breeding device is submerged into the holding tank of imported animals. Finally, PCR is applied to the sludge sample and A. hydrophila is detected at the sump's bottom and surface. Generally, these environmental screening techniques applied to these specific pathogens have led to an increased sensitivity compared to the testing of pre-filtration sentinels.

Journal details

Issue number 130
Pages e55306
Available online
Publication date


Type of publication

Crick labs/facilities