Federation Fish Afflicted By Deadly Bacteria
By Ryan Haas
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS- JOHN Brake, a Research Associate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, confirmed today that the dead fish found recently in the waters of St. Kitts and Nevis were infected with a specific strain of bacteria, streptococcus iniae (S. iniae) .
|John Brake-Research Associate, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
The confirmation of S. iniae as the cause of death for the fish was diagnosed through a collaborative effort between Ross University staff and a lab at the University of British Columbia which is a Center for Disease Control (CDC) facility specializing in the bacteria.
Brake said that the lab in Canada “is one of only a couple worldwide that can confirm the identity of this bacteria using molecular (DNA sequencing) techniques.”
He also said that S. iniae is a pathogen that affects fish “in much the same way that you would have a flu virus move through a human population.”
The Federation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, addressed questions about the
public’s safety regarding the disease. “Primarily the bacteria get into humans through breaks in the skin,” he said, meaning that a person with cuts or abrasions who handles the fish would be at high risk for contracting the bacteria.
|Dr. Patrick Martin-Chief Medical Officer of St. Kitts and Nevis
Although there have been no reports of persons in St. Kitts or Nevis getting ill from ingesting infected fish, Martin advised the public to cook their fish to a temperature of at least 160°F (70°C).
“That is the threshold temperature to kill most microorganisms .Barbequing is one method of food preparation that the public should be mindful of because often times the food may look done on the outside while remaining undercooked in the middle.”
The CDC cites the symptoms of S. iniae as being anything from cellulitis, a type of skin rash, to endocarditis, an inflammation in the inner layers of the heart. It has also been documented that as the disease progresses it begins to have an effect on a patient’s bones, causing arthritic like pain.
Brake stated that it was unclear if the disease was still affecting fish in the waters around the Federation, but he urged the public to remain cautious and report any dead fish they find to the Department of Fisheries.