Mycobacteriosis and Infections with Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria in Aquatic Organisms: A Review

Microorganisms. 2020 Sep 7;8(9):E1368. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8091368.


The Mycobacteriaceae constitute a family of varied Gram-positive organisms that include a large number of pathogenic bacteria. Among these, non-tuberculous mycobacteria are endemic worldwide and have been associated with infections in a large number of organisms, including humans and other mammals and reptiles, as well as fish. In this review, we summarize the most recent findings regarding this group of pathogens in fish. There, four species are most commonly associated with disease outbreaks: Mycobacterium marinum, the most common of these fish mycobacterial pathogens, Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium gordonae, and Mycobacterium chelonae. These bacteria have a broad host range: they are zoonotic, and infections have been reported in a large number of fish species. The main route of entry of the bacterium into the fish is through the gastrointestinal route, and the disease is associated with ulcerative dermatitis as well as organomegaly and the development of granulomatous lesions in the internal organs. Mycobacteriaceae are slow-growing and fastidious and isolation is difficult and time consuming and diagnostic is mostly performed using serological and molecular tools. Control of the disease is also difficult: there is currently no effective vaccine and infections react poorly to antibiotherapy. For this reason, more research is needed on the subject of these vexing pathogens.

Keywords: Granuloma; Mycobacterium chelonae; Mycobacterium fortuitum; Mycobacterium marinum; chronic infections; diagnostic.

Publication types

  • Review