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The prevalence of mycobacterial infections in striped bass in Chesapeake Bay

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Several species of bacteria have been isolated from diseased striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum), in Chesapeake Bay. Mycobacteria species are of particular interest because of their association with chronic lesions in both fish and humans. The resulting disease in fish may be characterised by emaciation, inflammation of the skin, exophthalmia (pop-eye), ascites (dropsy), open lesions, and ulceration. The prevalence of mycobacterial infection in 217 striped bass in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay was determined to provide evidence of decreased overall condition of fish affected by these bacteria. The density of the granulomas was higher in the spleen and head kidney than either the heart or liver, and appeared to be most closely associated with the presence of an external lesion. Thirty-eight per cent of the fish showed some sign of an external lesion. Granulomas appeared in at least one organ in 53% of the fish sampled regardless of the presence or absence of an external skin lesion. Condition factor was significantly higher for striped bass without external lesions (0.96) than those with lesions (0.82). Striped bass with no internal granulomas and no external lesion had the highest condition factor (0.99) and fish with granulomas and external lesions the lowest (0.81). Slopes of the regression loge weight (g) and loge length (mm) for striped bass with external lesions was significantly higher than those fish without external lesions and had a lower r2. The results suggest that striped bass that are infected with mycobacteria have decreased overall health.

Keywords: granulomas; mycobacteria; striped bass

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, MD, USA 2: Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service B2, Annapolis, MD, USA 3: Department of Natural Science, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, MD, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2003


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