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Prevalence and Potential Pathogenicity of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) Harvested from the River Thames Estuary, England

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Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) have been described as an alien invasive species in the River Thames, United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe. The crabs can cause considerable physical damage to the riverbeds and threaten native ecosystems. Trapping has been considered an option, but such attempts to control mitten crab populations in Germany in the 1930s failed. In the United Kingdom, it has been suggested that commercial exploitation of the species could be employed as a control option. This study was conducted as part of a larger program to assess the suitability of a commercial Chinese mitten crab fishery in the River Thames. Crabs and water samples from the River Thames between 2003 and 2006 were examined for the human pathogenic bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus. All samples throughout this testing period were positive for V. parahaemolyticus. The putative pathogenicity markers, thermostable direct hemolysin and thermostable direct–related hemolysin, were detected in one sample, indicating that the crabs possessed the potential to cause V. parahaemolyticus–associated illness if consumed without further processing. Levels of V. parahaemolyticus were higher during the summer than in the winter. This is the first study of V. parahaemolyticus prevalence in European-adapted Chinese mitten crabs.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Barrack Road, The Nothe, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK; Division of Microbial Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK 2: Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Barrack Road, The Nothe, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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