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cold-water disease

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cold-water disease

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • cold-water disease
  • Overview
  • Bacterial coldwater disease (CWD) may cause significant disease and mortality to fishes, in particular, to salmonid species. This disease frequently occurs in cultured salmon species, such as coho salmon (Oncorhynchu...

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Fish showing 'fin rot' or fin necrosis of the tail clinically diagnostic of Flavobacterium psychrophilum infection.
TitleFlavobacterium psychrophilum infection
CaptionFish showing 'fin rot' or fin necrosis of the tail clinically diagnostic of Flavobacterium psychrophilum infection.
CopyrightE. B. Shotts, Jr & C. E. Starliper
Fish showing 'fin rot' or fin necrosis of the tail clinically diagnostic of Flavobacterium psychrophilum infection.
Flavobacterium psychrophilum infectionFish showing 'fin rot' or fin necrosis of the tail clinically diagnostic of Flavobacterium psychrophilum infection.E. B. Shotts, Jr & C. E. Starliper

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • cold-water disease

International Common Names

  • English: cold water disease; coldwater disease; fin rot; Flavobacterium psychrophilum infection; low temperature disease; peduncle disease

Overview

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Bacterial coldwater disease (CWD) may cause significant disease and mortality to fishes, in particular, to salmonid species. This disease frequently occurs in cultured salmon species, such as coho salmon (Oncorhynchuskisutch) and among rainbow trout (O. mykiss) and lake trout (Salmo namaycush) stocks. Coldwater disease typically occurs at temperatures below 13-15°C and is most prevalent and serious at 10°C and below (Holt, 1987); because of this, there are some limitations as to geographic areas and hosts affected. Various sizes of fish may be affected and fry and fingerling-sized fish are particularly susceptible (Holt, 1987; Brown et al., 1997).

Several CWD manifestations have been reported. ‘Typical’ CWD in fish may yield external lesions often on the dorsal of the fish, loss of fins and in some fish significant erosion of the caudal fin. In many of the affected fish, the causative bacterium is also noted to cause an internal, systemic infection. Another CWD manifestation is rainbow trout fry syndrome (Lorenzen et al., 1991). This disease is a relatively acute and usually begins several weeks after fish begin to feed. Mortality to a population of tens of thousands of fish may approach 50-60%. Lethargy, exophthalmia, dark skin pigmentation and loss of appetite are signs of disease. Daskalov et al. (2000) showed that diets containing relatively high amounts of oxidized lipids exacerbate rainbow trout fry syndrome. A form of coldwater disease that is relatively more chronic has been reported in salmonids; this manifestation is characterized by erratic swimming behavior, blackened tails and spinal deformities in many of the fish (Kent et al., 1989; Blazer et al., 1996). This chronic form of CWD has been reported in fish that have survived/recovered from typical clinical CWD (Kent et al., 1989) or from fish with no recent previous history of disease (Blazer et al., 1996).

Topics for Future Study

Some of the key areas of research which need further resolution are as follows.

1. Delineation of the mechanism(s) of the disease.

2. Development of either a genus vaccine or a subunit vaccine which is targeted towards bacterial adherence to the fish.

3. Studies to explain the lack of detectable inflammatory response during infection.

4. Investigations directed toward disease management via water-quality management.

[Based upon material originally published in Woo PTK, Bruno DW, eds., 1999. Fish diseases and disorders, Vol. 3 Viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing.]

Hosts/Species Affected

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Most fishes worldwide are susceptible to some form of disease caused by Flavobacterium spp. The host and disease aetiology encountered usually follows a geographical and temperature gradient. These microorganisms are considered ubiquitous in the aquatic environment and are often noted to cause disease in conjunction with stressors such as mechanical and/or environmental insults.

Coldwater disease occurs most frequently in cultured salmon species, brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brown trout (Salmo trutta), lake trout (Salmo namaycush), walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) and several species of whitefish, carp, dace and suckers.

Distribution

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Coldwater disease is common among susceptible host species of fish in geographic regions with water temperatures generally 15°C, and below.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentHolt , 1987
USAPresentHolt , 1987
-AlaskaPresentHolt , 1987
-CaliforniaPresentBrown and et al. , 1997
-IdahoPresentHolt , 1987
-MainePresentHolt , 1987
-MichiganPresentHolt , 1987
-New HampshirePresentHolt , 1987
-OregonPresentHolt , 1987; Kent and et al. , 1989
-PennsylvaniaPresentBlazer and et al. , 1996
-VermontPresentHolt , 1987
-WashingtonPresentHolt , 1987; Kent and et al. , 1989
-West VirginiaPresentBlazer and et al. , 1996
-WisconsinPresentHolt , 1987

Europe

DenmarkPresentLorenzen et al., 1991
FinlandPresentWiklund et al., 1994
FrancePresentBernardet and Kerouault , 1989
SpainPresentToranzo and Barja, 1993
UKPresentAustin, 1992

Oceania

AustraliaPresentSchmidtke and Carson, 1995
-TasmaniaPresentSchmidtke and Carson, 1995

Pathology

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Often, the first indications of a disease (CWD) problem in a population of fish can be detected as loss of appetite and a generalized listlessness; CWD involves both external and internal pathology (Shotts, Jr. and Starliper, 1999; Bader and Starliper, 2002). External pathology may begin with loss of fin tip integrity. A darkening of the skin pigmentation in the peduncle area may be observed. Bacterial colonization may lead to further erosion of fins, in particular to the caudal fin; colonization may be noted in some fish as a whitish material on the fins and separation of the fin rays. A necrosis may develop and at the peduncle area, in extreme cases, the caudal vertebra may eventually be exposed. Concurrent with or subsequent to the external pathology is the establishment of internal and systemic infection. Often, a physical abrasion to the skin facilitates entrance of the pathogen internally; this is often noted in fish of a size large enough to be moved to and reared in concrete raceways.

Diagnosis

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Presumptive diagnosis can be made by evaluating the case history including the clinical signs noted, the pattern of mortality, host(s) affected, water temperature, etc. along with any endemic history of CWD at the rearing facility. Diagnosis may be confirmed with primary isolation of F. psychrophilum from fish followed by biochemical and physiological characterizations as previously described. Additionally, numerous researchers have employed genotypic-based assays for characterization of F. psychrophilum strains. Genotypic-based assays have also been used for diagnosis among populations of fish experiencing an epizootic or in asymptomatic fish for health/pathogen screening as a preventative tool. Uses of molecular diagnostics for F. psychrophilum are presented by Bader and Starliper (2002).

Primary cultures can be made of lesions and from a number of internal tissues, but not necessarily from all tissues of each fish nor from all apparently affected fish. With the chronic disease form and fish displaying erratic swimming and blackened tails, these signs may be thought to be similar to those of whirling disease, a disease caused by the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis. However, CWD may readily be diagnosed in moribund fish with microscopy and primary isolation of F. psychrophilum. Histologically, periostitis, osteitis, meningitis and ganglioneuritis may be observed. With the chronic form, masses of F. psychrophilum cells may also be noted in the cranial area and anterior vertebra with inflammation and cartilage necrosis along the vertebral column. Kent et al. (1989) correlated F. psychrophilum infections in the cranium and vertebrae of coho salmon with ataxia and abnormal swimming behavior.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Finfish / Cessation of feeding - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Cessation of feeding - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Cessation of feeding - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Corkscrewing - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Fry Diagnosis
Finfish / Darkened coloration - Skin and Fins Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Fry Diagnosis
Finfish / Generalised lethargy - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Generalised lethargy - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Generalised lethargy - Behavioural Signs Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Haemorrhagic lesions - Skin and Fins Aquatic:Adult Sign
Finfish / Lateral bends in spine (scoliosis) - Body Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Fry Diagnosis
Finfish / Mortalities -Miscellaneous Aquatic:Adult Sign
Finfish / Red spots: larger patches - Skin and Fins Aquatic:Adult Sign
Finfish / Skin erosion - Skin and Fins Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Diagnosis
Finfish / Skin erosion - Skin and Fins Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Diagnosis
Finfish / Torn, split, ragged or frayed fins - Skin and fins Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign
Finfish / Torn, split, ragged or frayed fins - Skin and fins Aquatic:Adult,Aquatic:Broodstock,Aquatic:Fry Sign

Disease Course

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Reservoirs for the causal bacterium are presumed to include asymptomatic, carrier fish and an infected water supply. Pathogen transmission is thought to be primarily horizontal, even though reproducing clinical disease signs and mortality to fish with laboratory-bacterial challenges using waterborne (bath) exposures is difficult (Holt, 1987; Madsen and Dalsgaard, 1999). Support for vertical transmission has been reported as the pathogen has been isolated from ovarian fluid, egg surfaces, milt, mucus and kidney from mature coho and chinook salmon, and from rainbow and steelhead trout (Holt, 1987; Rangdale et al., 1996; Brown et al., 1997). Brown et al. (1997) also isolated the pathogen from inside fertilized, eyed eggs. Furthermore, Ekman et al. (1999) isolated the bacterium from the sex products of male and female salmon (Salmo salar) returning from the Baltic Sea to spawn. The pathogen can also be transmitted by contamination of eggs (Rangdale et al., 1997b; Kumagai et al., 1998; 2000). Kumagai et al. (2000) experimentally exposed eyed eggs and other groups either before or after water hardening. All were disinfected and the pathogen was isolated from those that were exposed prior to water hardening. This demonstrated the importance water hardening has on eggs in pathogen-free water. Among eyed-eggs and those contaminated prior to water hardening, treatment after fertilization with 50 ppm povidone-iodine for 15 min was not effective in preventing CWD (Kumagai et al., 1998).

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Fisheries / aquaculture Negative

Impact: Economic

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The ability of these organisms to cause both acute and chronic disease and their ubiquitous nature in the environment have made them one of the most devastating groups of bacterial pathogens of free-ranging and more particularly to cultured fishes. The estimated annual losses due to Flavobacterial diseases, including coldwater diseases are staggering.

Impact: Environmental

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Minimal impact on the environment, per se. Except to say that reduction in numbers of an important species, for example, reduction of salmon having an impact on food for predators.

Impact: Social

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Minimal social impact, except perhaps, indirectly because of the economic losses at fish culture facilities, and reduced stocking could effect the sport fisheries industry.

Zoonoses and Food Safety

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This bacterial species is not known to produce disease in humans; it is known to infect only fishes.

References

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Amend DF, 1970. Myxobacterial infections of salmonids: prevention and treatment. In: Snieszko SF, ed. A Symposium on Diseases of Fishes and Shellfishes. Washington, DC: American Fisheries Society, Special Publication No.5, 258-265.

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Austin B, 1992. The recovery of Cytophaga psychrophila from two cases of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, Walbaum) fry syndrome in the U.K. Bulletin of the European Association of Fish Pathologists, 12(6):207-208.

Bader JA, 1995. Identification and classification of three bacteria pathogenic to fish in the genus Flexibacter using the polymerase-chain-reaction and sequence analysis on the small subunit (16S) ribosomal TNA gene. Doctoral dissertation. Georgia: University of Georgia, 104 pp.

Bader JA; Starliper CE, 2002. The genera Flavobacterium and Flexibacter. Molecular diagnosis of salmonid diseases, 99-139.

Bernardet JF; Grimont PAD, 1989. Deoxyribonucleic acid relatedness and phenotypic characterization of Flexibacter columnaris sp. Nov., nom., rev., Flexibacter psychrophilus sp. Nov., nom., rev., and Flexibacter maritimus (Wakabayashi, Hikida, and Masumura 1986). International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, 39:346-354.

Bernardet JF; Kerouault B, 1989. Phenotypic and genomic studies of "Cytophaga psychrophila" isolated from diseased rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in France. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 55(7):1796-1800.

Bernardet J-F; Segers P; Vancanneyt M; Berthe F; Kersters K; Vandamme P, 1996. Cutting a gordian knot: emended classification and description of the genus Flavobacterium, emended description of the family Flavobacteriaceae, and proposal of Flavobacterium hydatis nom. nov. (basonym, Cytophaga aquatilis Strohl and Tait 1978). International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, 46:128-148.

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Brown LL; Cox WT; Levine RP, 1997. Evidence that the causal agent of bacterial cold-water disease Flavobacterium psychrophilum is transmitted within salmonid eggs. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 29(3):213-218.

Bruun MS; Schmidt AS; Madsen L; Dalsgaard I, 2000. Antimicrobial resistance patterns in Danish isolates of Flavobacterium psychrophilum. Aquaculture, 187(3/4):201-212.

Bullock GL, 1972. Studies on Selected Myxobacteria Pathogenic for Fishes and on Bacterial Gill Disease in Hatchery-reared Salmonids. Washington, DC: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Technical Paper 60, 30 pp.

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Cipriano RC; Schill WB; Teska JD; Ford LA, 1996. Epizootiological study of bacterial cold-water disease in Pacific salmon and further characterization of the etiologic agent, Flexibacter psychrophila. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, 8(1):28-36.

Daskalov H; Austin DA; Austin B, 1999. An improved growth medium for Flavobacterium psychrophilum. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 28(4):297-299; 8 ref.

Daskalov H; Robertson PAW; Austin B, 2000. Influence of oxidized lipids in diets on the development of rainbow trout fry syndrome. Journal of Fish Diseases, 23(1):7-14.

Eimers ME; Cardella MA, 1990. Attempts to control Flexibacter columnaris epizootics in pond-reared channel catfish by vaccination. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, 2(2):109-111.

Ekman E; Börjeson H; Johansson N, 1999. Flavobacterium psychrophilum in Baltic salmon Salmo salar brood fish and their offspring. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 37(3):159-163.

Garnjobst L, 1945. Cytophaga columnaris (Davis) in pure culture: a myxobacterium pathogenic to fish. Journal of Bacteriology, 49:113-128.

Holt RA, 1987. Cytophaga psychrophila, the causative agent of bacterial cold water disease in salmonid fish. PhD thesis. Corvallis, USA: Oregon State University, 166 pp.

Kent L; Groff JM; Morrison JK; Yasutake WT; Holt RA, 1989. Spiral swimming behavior due to cranial and vertebral lesions associated with Cytophaga psychrophila infections in salmonid fishes. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 6(1):11-16.

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Kumagai A; Yamaoka S; Takahashi K; Fukuda H; Wakabayashi H, 2000. Waterborne transmission of Flavobacterium psychrophilum in Coho salmon eggs. Gyobyo Kenkyu = Fish Pathology, 35(1):25-28.

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