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Isolation of Streptococcus agalactiae and an aquatic birnavirus from doctor fish Garra rufa L

Neil M Ruane*, Evelyn M Collins, Michelle Geary, David Swords, Cathy Hickey and Fiona Geoghegan

Author Affiliations

Fish Health Unit, Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2013, 66:16  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-66-16

Published: 13 September 2013



The doctor fish, Garra rufa, has become increasingly popular as a treatment for skin disorders and for pedicures in recent years. Despite this there is very little information available regarding the welfare of these fish and the range of potential pathogens they may carry. In this study, a group of fish suffering from post-transport mortalities were examined and the isolated pathogens identified.


Group B Streptococcus agalactiae was isolated from kidney swabs of the fish and found to be resistant to a number of antibiotics. In addition to this, a fish virus belonging to the aquabirnavirus group, serogroup C was isolated for the first time in Ireland. However, no clinical signs of disease typical of bacterial or viral infections were observed in any fish examined.


As no clinical signs of disease attributable to either of the pathogens identified were found it was concluded that the mortalities were most likely due to transport related stress exacerbated by the presence of the pathogens. Further work is required to assess the suitability of current transport strategies and to examine the potential risk associated with the transport of live ornamental fish.

Aquabirnavirus; Streptococcus agalactiae; Garra rufa