Auburn University Researchers Working Toward Effective Catfish Vaccine

Auburn University researchers have developed a vaccine that could help prevent a costly catfish disease.

Auburn researchers will use an almost $321,000 grant from the USDA to field test the vaccine.

Fresh water fish can contract a certain disease that can cost some farmers millions of dollars every year in their industry.

It’s called columnaris disease.

“If you were wondering why your goldfish died, it’s probably from columnaris disease,” said Dr. Cova Arias, AU professor of School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences.

The disease is devastating and has been a main problem for catfish farmers. In some years, columnaris is the number one disease problem in catfish production.In hatcheries the disease can kill 90 to 100% of the fish.

“It’s a big deal for the farmers but they’ve found not a very good solution so far,” said Dr. Arias.

There is a commercial vaccine out there, but Auburn University researchers created one to prevent the more aggressive form of the disease.

“We want to target the columnaris that’s most aggressive in fish and the type of columnaris that commercial vaccine uses right now targets a mild type of the disease. So, when you develop a vaccine you want to target the most aggressive and prevalent type of disease and that’s what our vaccine does,” said Dr. Arias.

They are working toward two things: They know it works in the lab, but can it work in the field? And will it be economically feasible for the farmers.

“We hope it will reduce their loses due to columnaris disease and will it be cost effective for them and that will result in healthier fish and a little more profit for the industry which is something they need because they are struggling,” said Dr. Arias.

They’ve been working on it for nine years and their lab experiments continue this year and will move in the field in 2019. Once ready for the field, they’ll test it out in small ponds first.

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