Project number: 2000-149
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $35,604.99
Principal Investigator: Nick Gudkovs
Organisation: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Project start/end date: 18 Dec 2000 - 30 Dec 2001


Diagnostic laboratories across the country vary in their diagnostic capability for aquatic animal pathogens. Due to their individual needs, many diagnostic laboratories have developed their own reagents and procedures for the identification of bacterial pathogens. This lack of standardisation can be problematical, for example, when reporting on aquatic animal health status. Using Vibrio identification as an example, it is likely that diagnostic laboratories would be capable of identification to the genus level (i.e. Vibrio sp.). However, due to differences in the various laboratories, identification to the species level would be difficult, and different laboratories are likely to use different procedures for identification.

There is a clear need for diagnostic scientists working in this area to compare and standardise protocols between States. A series of workshops aimed at providing training in the diagnosis of bacterial disease in aquatic animals for those new to the area, and at the same time providing an opportunity to evaluate the various diagnostic protocols used in Australia for their ability to identify both enzootic and exotic pathogens is overdue.

Development of Standard Diagnostic Techniques will require three logical steps:

1. Comparison and evaluation of the tests currently used by diagnostic laboratories;
2. Development of, and agreement on, the most sensitive, accurate and reproducible methods;
3. Adoption and publication of the agreed method for each pathogen as the Standard Diagnostic Technique.

Thus development of SDTs in aquatic animal bacteriology may include an SDT on general methods for aquatic animal bacteriology followed by SDTs for specific diseases such as Vibriosis. Vibriosis, due to its widespread occurence in vertebrate and invertebrate aquatic animal species in tropical and temperate regions of Australia, was identified as a disease of particular importance with respect to standardisation of diagnostic methods [1].

In order to ensure that the SDTs incorporate the latest technologies and information on exotic, as well as enzootic, bacterial pathogens, and that the SDTs will be recognised internationally as state-of-the-art, an international expert on the specific disease will be invited to participate in each of the respective workshops.


1. Fish Health Management Committee (1998). Report of the Fish Health Management Committee and the Fish Health Coordinating Group: Workshop on Aquatic Animal Health: Technical Issues, 7-9 December 1998, Melbourne, Victoria.


1. Introductory Workshop in Fish Bacteriology - to provide training in basic diagnostic techniques for the major diseases of salmonids and other finfish.
2. Bacteriology Workshop - Diagnosis of Vibriosis in aquatic animals.
3. Preparation and submission of a report recommending bacteriological methods for aquatic animals for inclusion in Australian Standard Diagnostic Techniques (SDTs), and agreement on authorship, provided to the Aquatic Animal Health Unit, National Office of Animal and Plant Health.

Final report

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