Characterization of spaC-type Erysipelothrix sp. isolates causing systemic disease in ornamental fish

E. K. Pomaranski, S. R. Reichley, R. Yanong, J. Shelley, D. B. Pouder, J. C. Wolf, K. V. Kenelty, B. Van Bonn, F. Oliaro, Barbara A Byrne, Kristin A Clothier, M. J. Griffin, A. C. Camus, Esteban Soto Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Since 2012, low-to-moderate mortality associated with an Erysipelothrix sp. bacterium has been reported in ornamental fish. Histological findings have included facial cellulitis, necrotizing dermatitis and myositis, and disseminated coelomitis with abundant intralesional Gram-positive bacterial colonies. Sixteen Erysipelothrix sp. isolates identified phenotypically as E. rhusiopathiae were recovered from diseased cyprinid and characid fish. Similar clinical and histological changes were also observed in zebrafish, Danio rerio, challenged by intracoelomic injection. The Erysipelothrix sp. isolates from ornamental fish were compared phenotypically and genetically to E. rhusiopathiae and E. tonsillarum isolates recovered from aquatic and terrestrial animals from multiple facilities. Results demonstrated that isolates from diseased fish were largely clonal and divergent from E. rhusiopathiae and E. tonsillarum isolates from normal fish skin, marine mammals and terrestrial animals. All ornamental fish isolates were PCR positive for spaC, with marked genetic divergence (<92% similarity at gyrB, <60% similarity by rep-PCR) between the ornamental fish isolates and other Erysipelothrix spp. isolates. This study supports previous work citing the genetic variability of Erysipelothrix spp. spa types and suggests isolates from diseased ornamental fish may represent a genetically distinct species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Fish Diseases
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Erysipelothrix
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Ornamental

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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