Prevalence of bacterial pathogens and their anti-microbial resistance in tilapia and their pond water in Trinidad.
In Trinidad, Tilapia (Oreonchromis spp.) is one of the most important fresh water food fish and the number of farms has been increasing annually. A study was conducted in the local tilapia industry to determine the microbial quality of pond water, prevalence of bacterial pathogens and their anti-microbial resistance using the disk diffusion method. Seventy-five apparently healthy fish and 15 pond water samples from three of the four commercial tilapia fish farms in the country were processed. The 202 bacterial isolates recovered from fish slurry and 88 from water, belonged to 13 and 16 genera respectively. The predominant bacteria from fish slurry were Pseudomonas spp. (60.0%), Aeromonas spp. (44.0%), Plesiomonas (41.3%) and Chromobacterium (36.0%) (P<0.05; χ2) compared with isolates from pond water where Bacillus spp. (80.0%), Staphylococcus spp., Alcaligenes spp. and Aeromonas spp. (60.0%) were most prevalent (P<0.05; χ2). Using eight anti-microbial agents, to test bacteria from five genera (Aeromonas, Chromobacterium, Enterobacter, Plesiomonas and Pseudomonas), 168 (97.1%) of 173 bacterial isolates from fish slurry exhibited resistance to one or more anti-microbial agents compared with 47 (90.4%) of 52 from water (P>0.05; χ2). Resistance was high to ampicillin, 90.2% (158 of 173), erythromycin, 66.5% (115 of 173) and oxytetracycline, 52.6%, (91 of 173) but relatively low to chloramphenicol, 9.8% (17 of 173) and sulphamethoxazole/trimethoprim, 6.4% (11 of 173) (P<0.05; χ2). For pond water isolates, the frequency of resistance across bacterial genera ranged from 75% (nine of 12) for Chromobacter spp. to 100% found amongst Enterobacter spp. (six of six), Plesiomonas spp. (nine of nine) and Pseudomonas spp. (eight of eight) (P<0.05; χ2). Resistance was generally high to ampicillin, 78.8% (41 of 52), erythromycin, 51.9% (27 of 52) and oxytetracycline, 34.5% (18 of 52) but low to sulphamethoxazole/trimethoprim, 7.7% (four of 52) and norfloxacin, 3.8% (two of 52) (P<0.05; χ2). It was concluded that the rather high prevalence of bacterial pathogens in tilapia along with their high prevalence of resistance to anti-microbial agents might pose therapeutic problems as well as health risk to consumers. The microbial presence and their anti-microbial resistance in the tilapia industry are being reported for the first time in the country.