Researchers from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, have launched a projected focusing on increasing the healthy production of aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ‘One Health’ project, published by a team at the University of Cape Town, entails research and the promotion of healthy feeds that boost the immune systems of fish raised in aquaculture. The aim of this is to counter the disease challenges that that remain a major threat to the fish produced in many African countries.
Project leader, Vernon Coyne is an associate professor in the department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. Coyne commented: “A major objective of the ‘One Health’ project is to develop a new technology that will allow us to rapidly generate antibodies specific to an uncharacterized pathogen that can be used as a therapeutic and diagnostic, and subsequently, develop DNA vaccines that can specifically prevent infections in healthy farmed fish.”
Coyne singled out the Tilapia Lake Virus to be the single most successful disease to affect indigenous African fish. This disease is present in at least ten sub-Saharan African countries, including Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
“In addition, there are numerous protozoan parasites that affect farmed fish, as well as bacteria which are mostly opportunistic pathogens of stressed fish which occurs in response to the nature of fish farming,” Coyne said.
Researchers proceeded to develop a vaccine to cushion farmed fish in Africa from the effects of disease. Coyne explain how bacteria diseases “are generally treated with antibiotics, which is frowned upon due to the potential of developing antibiotic resistance in farmed fish.”
“There are no treatments for protozoan parasites at present, and many vaccines against viral pathogens are currently in the development phase,” said Coyne.
“We plan to work with specific feed manufacturers to formulate and test our feeds under development… “We will only be involved in feed formulation and do not foresee ourselves being involved in monitoring production of the feed,” he said.