BCG jab could protect fish from TB

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For over 80 years humans have been receiving protection against tuberculosis from the BCG vaccination given to them as a child - now scientists reckon the same thing could work for fish.

Experts from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology gave the Bacillus Calmette and Guerin, or BCG, jab to Japanese flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus, which are susceptible to fish TB and found that the human vaccine provided protection against the disease.

Fish TB, or Mycobacteriosis, is caused by Mycobacterium and has resulted in severe loss of production in Japanese aquaculture. The same disease also affects aquarium fish and is believed to be prevalent in certain selectively bred tropical fish species.

The Tokyo scientists injected the flounder with BCG, an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis, and some other Mycobacterium that had been killed with formalin solution.

They found that the BCG-vaccinated flounders were protective against further Mycobacterium attacks, as well as against certain other non-specific bactericidal proteins such as lysozyme.

The findings, which have just been published in the journal Developmental and Comparative Immunology, suggest that the BCG vaccine could be put to use as a potential fish vaccine to protect stocks against the related disease that causes Fish TB.

Kato G, Kondo H, Aoki T, Hirono I (2010) - BCG vaccine confers adaptive immunity against Mycobacterium sp. infection in fish. Dev Comp Immunol. 2010 Feb;34(2):133-40. Epub 2009 Sep 11.