by MSD Animal Health, UK


A new vaccine to protect against streptococcosis in fish is now available in Latin America. AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si is indicated for the active immunisation of tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and other susceptible fish species to reduce mortality and disease due to streptococcosis caused by Streptococcus agalactiae (serotype Ib) and Streptococcus iniae.

MSD Animal Health recently announced that AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si was first launched in Honduras and will be available throughout the Latin America region following local country regulatory approvals.

As global tilapia production continues to increase to meet the growing demand for safe and affordable protein that helps contribute to a nutritious diet, disease prevention is fundamental for its sustainability.

Population growth continues to drive demand for nutritious, sustainable sources of protein

By 2050, it is estimated that the world's population will increase by 34 percent to 9.1 billion people – doubling the demand for global food production, including fish protein.[i] The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations also estimates that about one billion people worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein.[ii]

High in protein and containing many essential micronutrients, fish is critically important to balancing the needs of feeding the growing global population, and meeting the demand for healthy and sustainable protein production.

Fish provides more than 4.5 billion people with at least 15 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein. More than just a source of protein, the unique nutritional properties of fish make it essential to the health of billions of people in developed and developing countries.

Fish contains essential amino acids: lysine and methionine, micronutrients: vitamins D, A and B, and minerals: calcium, phosphorus, iodine, zinc, iron and selenium, which makes it particularly important to help alleviate malnutrition in food-deficient countries.[iii]

Streptococcosis causes widespread morbidity and mortality in warm water fish and significant economic loss for producers

Streptococcosis is a neurological bacterial disease that affects warm water fish in both salt or freshwater environments, typically in tropical regions. The predominant streptococcal diseases in tilapia are Streptococcus agalactiae and Streptococcus iniae.

External clinical signs of streptococcosis include marked hemorrhages, cornea opacity, spinning near the water surface, loss of appetite, erosion of the caudal fin and eye protrusion. Fish may also show a 'C' or 'S'-shaped body posturing, lethargic behavior, and bloody abscesses around the mouth. The internal signs can include enlarged spleen, abdominal swelling, dark areas in the liver, organ adhesion and inflammation.[iv]

With a mortality rate ranging from 40-to-80 percent,[v] this contagious disease causes widespread morbidity and mortality in fish across all sizes, and presents significant economic loss for producers when the larger fish are affected.

Tilapia production in Latin America expected to deliver the most growth in the coming decade

Between 2007 and 2012, Latin American producers doubled their output of farmed tilapia, and Latin American tilapia production is expected to keep growing incrementally through to 2020. Production estimates for 2018 amount to 390,000 tonnes in Brazil, 75,000 tonnes in Mexico and 72,000 tonnes in Colombia.

Motivated by the declining demand in the US and growing consumer acceptance of tilapia in South America, Latin American tilapia companies have started to increase their focus on domestic markets to supplement their export business.[vi]

'MSD Animal Health is pleased to announce the approval of a new vaccine that provides protection to tilapia against streptococcosis, the most significant health challenge of tilapia. AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si will benefit tilapia health and tilapia producers throughout Latin America,' said Kasha Cox, Global Lead Aquaculture, MSD Animal Health.

'Tilapia grown in Latin America helps the region meet the growing demand for a safe and affordable protein source that helps contribute to a nutritious diet. MSD Animal Health continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the tilapia producers and the health and welfare of the fish they are raising.'

MSD Animal Health offers a range of vaccines against the main disease-causing Streptococcal strains

AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si is the latest vaccine in a range of products developed to protect against Streptococcosis, including AQUAVAC® Strep Sa and AQUAVAC® Strep Sa1.

AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si has a demonstrated onset of immunity from one week after vaccination, with a demonstrated duration of immunity for at least 12 weeks in laboratory trials and throughout the production cycle in field trials.

In field trials, AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si has demonstrated significant reduction of mortality, with efficacy for at least six months, the entire duration of the tilapia production period. AQUAVAC® Strep Sa-Si has a zero-day withdrawal period; therefore, fish can be vaccinated at any time point before harvest.

In addition to a range of vaccines, MSD Animal Health provides support to fish farmers to effectively manage fish health, welfare and safety, both during treatment and at key points in the production cycle. This includes guidance on biosecurity, a set of management procedures and processes to reduce and control the overall pathogen load in the farming environment, ensuring better fish health overall.

'Protecting fish from disease is vital to ensuring fish welfare and safeguards entire fish farms as well as the food supply. The implementation of vaccination along with other measures of biosecurity to prevent or minimise the transmission of infectious diseases will lead to numerous improvements on fish farms, including reduced morbidity and mortality rates and increased profitibality," said Luc Grisez Global Lead for Aquaculture Research and Development at MSD Animal Health.

'With a portfolio of products to be used singularly and in combination, MSD now offers protection against the main disease-causing Streptococcal strains including Streptococcus agalactiae (serotype Ia, Ib and III) and Streptococcus iniae.'

The benefits of eating fish for brain, heart and eye health are well known. Tilapia provides heart-healthy omega-3s, but is low in total and saturated fats, an exceptional nutrition combination

Tilapia nutrition facts (3 oz. serving):

  • 110 calories
  • 20g protein
  • 115mg of EPA+DHA
  • 2.5g total fat
  • 1g saturated fat[vii]

Biosecurity is a set of management procedures and processes, including a vaccination plan, that prevent or minimise the transmission of infectious diseases and pathogens

Depending on the type of production system, measures of biosecurity can include: [viii]

  • Disinfect water supply; maintain optimum water quality; avoid temperature fluctuations
  • Preventive medical practices, including quarantine, routine observation, vaccination and diagnostics for disease management
  • Minimise stress with acceptable stocking densities and gentle fish handling methods
  • Minimise frequent transfers between units or farms
  • Provide proper nutrition/feed; avoid nutrient deterioration
  • Disinfect tanks and accessory equipment, such as pumps, filters, pipes and trays, after every harvest before starting a new production cycle
  • Keep accurate records of growth rates, feed conversion ratios and disease

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