Examination of finfish populations for viral and bacterial pathogens is an important component of fish disease control programs worldwide. Two methods are commonly used for collecting tissue samples for bacteriological culture, the currently accepted standards for detection of bacterial fish pathogens. The method specified in the Office International des Epizooties Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals permits combining renal and splenic tissues from as many as 5 fish into pooled samples. The American Fisheries Society (AFS) Blue Book/US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Inspection Manual specifies the use of a bacteriological loop for collecting samples from the kidney of individual fish. An alternative would be to more fully utilize the pooled samples taken for virology. If implemented, this approach would provide substantial savings in labor and materials. To compare the relative performance of the AFS/USFWS method and this alternative approach, cultures of Yersinia ruckeri were used to establish low-level infections in groups of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that were sampled by both methods. Yersinia ruckeri was cultured from 22 of 37 groups by at least 1 method. The loop method yielded 18 positive groups, with 1 group positive in the loop samples but negative in the pooled samples. The pooled samples produced 21 positive groups, with 4 groups positive in the pooled samples but negative in the loop samples. There was statistically significant agreement (Spearman coefficient 0.80, P < 0.001) in the relative ability of the 2 sampling methods to permit detection of low-level bacterial infections of rainbow trout.
Additional publication details
Comparison of individual and pooled sampling methods for detecting bacterial pathogens of fish