Problems and concerns with antibiotic resistance have been growing for years, Miller-Morgan said. The nature of the resistance can range widely, causing an antibiotic to lose some, or all of its effectiveness.
There have been documented cases of disease transmission from fish to humans, he said, but it's not common. It would be a particular concern for anyone with a weak or compromised immune system, he pointed out, and people with such health issues should discuss tropical fish management with their physician. Workers who constantly handle tropical fish may also face a higher level of risk.
From an industry perspective, losses of fish to bacterial disease may become increasingly severe, he said, because antibiotics will lose their effectiveness.
Anyone handling tropical fish can use some basic precautions that should help, Miller-Morgan said. Consumers should buy only healthy fish; avoid cleaning tanks with open cuts or sores on their hands; use gloves; immediately remove sick fish from tanks; consider quarantining all new fish in a separate tank for 30 days; wash hands after working with fish; and never use antibiotics in a fish tank unless actually treating a known fish disease caused by bacteria.
"We don't think individuals should ever use antibiotics in a random, preventive or prophylactic method," Miller-Morgan said. "Even hobbyists can learn more about how to identify tropical fish parasites and diseases, and use antibiotics only if a bacterial disease is diagnosed."
On an industry level, he said, considerable progress could be made with improvements in fish husbandry, better screening and handling, and use of quarantines, rather than antibiotics, to reduce fish disease.
The ornamental fish indus
|Contact: Tim Miller-Morgan|
Oregon State University