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Use of Vaccination against Enteric Septicemia of Catfish and Columnaris Disease by the U.S. Catfish Industry

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Vaccination is an effective strategy used for the protection of food animals against infectious diseases. A 2010 U.S. Department of Agriculture questionnaire examined U.S. catfish industry use (in 2009) of two commercial vaccines that provide protection against enteric septicemia of catfish (ESC) and columnaris disease, catfish producers’ opinions regarding the percentage of vaccinated fish they expect to be protected, and producers’ general expectations regarding survival of vaccinated fish compared with unvaccinated fish. During 2009, 9.7% of the total fingerling operations used one or both vaccines; 12.3% of the total industry fry production was vaccinated against ESC, and 17.0% was vaccinated against columnaris disease. Of the producers who grew food-sized catfish to harvest, 6.7% used vaccinated catfish. The farms that did not use vaccinated fish for grow out had a mean size of 63.4 water surface hectares (156.6 water surface acres). The operations that used vaccinated fish were larger (mean size = 206.6 water surface hectares, or 510.6 water surface acres). The producers that stocked ESC-vaccinated fish for grow out represented 19.0% of the total water surface area of food fish production; producers that stocked columnaris-vaccinated fish represented 16.6% of the total area. Of the producers that stocked ESC-vaccinated catfish, 41.9% thought that survival was better in vaccinated fish than in unvaccinated fish; of the producers that stocked columnaris-vaccinated catfish, 46.2% thought that vaccinated fish displayed better survival. However, 37.5% of producers that used the ESC vaccine and 39.7% of producers that used the columnaris vaccine did not know whether vaccination improved survival rates. When all producers were asked about their expectations regarding the percentage of vaccinated fish that would be protected from disease, 52.4% responded that they expected 100% of their fish to be protected. More producer information about reasonable expectations regarding vaccine efficacy, the conditions under which immunosuppression and vaccine failure can occur, and assessment of vaccine performance may result in increased use of vaccination as a tool for the catfish industry. Received February 8, 2011; accepted November 17, 2011.
Julie Bebak , Bruce Wagner
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 2012 3 1 March 2012 v.24 no.1
Taylor & Francis Group
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed