Polyvalent vaccine for freshwater catfish (pangasius)
A 2016 survey by the Vietnamese Department of Animal Health found that 80% of the country’s pangasius (freshwater catfish) farmers dispensed a cocktail of antibiotics to the fish throughout the production cycle. Given this frequent use of antibiotics, the World Organization for Animal Health identified pangasius as an aquaculture species that could benefit from vaccination. Vaccination is necessary to improve the health and welfare of the fish, reduce pathogen load, improve vaccination efficacy, and provide farmers with a cost-effective and viable alternative to antibiotics.
Although a commercially available pangasius vaccine was released in 2013, farmers in Vietnam have been slow to adopt the product. However, new policies and laws introduced in 2017 that restrict antimicrobial use have highlighted the need for solutions to ensure compliance. This requires an understanding of the barriers that deter the widespread adoption of vaccines.
Currently there are no tools to detect immune responses for pangasius, but this is a necessity to advance vaccine development and delivery mechanisms. This project will test two novel technologies to improve the vaccination process. A polyvalent immersion vaccine will be designed to protect against two important bacterial pathogens affecting the Vietnamese catfish industry, and robotic immunization technology will reduce fish handling and stress during the vaccination process.
Both technologies are expected to have a positive impact on the adoption of vaccines by fish farmers, thereby reducing antibiotic use in the Vietnamese catfish sector. The project will also promote the use of aquatic vaccines by providing farmers with efficacious and cost-effective solutions to reduce antimicrobial use and resistance.