Zoonotic Diseases of Fish Origin

Zoonoses involving transmission of disease and biotoxin producing agents from fish to humans have been documented in the literature (i.e., bacteria, biotoxins, and parasites). There are also many other infectious organisms of fish origin that have not been reported but have the potential to infect and harm man. The status of the human host immune system plays a vital role in the severity of the disease. The table below illustrates several organisms and toxins of fish origin and exposure routes that have been reported or have the potential to infect humans.This table is not all-inclusive (see M.K. Stoskopf et.al., 1993; 14MB Adobe PDF).

The major exposure routes include ingestion and introduction of organisms through open wounds or abrasions. More specifically, ingestion includes consumption of raw or under-cooked infected fish tissue, ingestion of fish tissue contaminated with feces from infected fish, and ingestion of water harboring infectious organisms. Dermal exposure includes introduction of infectious agents into open wounds or abrasions through handling infected fish or infected water.

Pathogen ingestion of fish tissue (under cooked or feces cont.) ingestion of infected aquaria water dermal contact infected fish dermal contact infected Aquarium/Sea water
Streptococcus *      
Staphylococcus   *    
Clostridium +      
Erysipelothrix     +  
Mycobacterium     * +
Nocardia     * *
Vibrio +     +
Plesiomonas shigelloides + +    
Aeromonas   +   +
Pseudomonas   *   *
Escherichia +      
Salmonella +      
Klebsiella     +  
Edwardsiella + + + +
Leptospirosis ? ? ? ?
Anasakiasis +      
Eustrongyloides +      
Cestodes +      
Trematodes +      
Protozoa * *    
Calicivirus     *  
Candida     *  
Ciguatera Poisoning + heat and cold stable      
Scombroid Poisoning + cold sensitive      

+ reported cases in humans
* no known cases in humans but the potential risk exists
? exposure route of reported human disease unknown