New vaccine to benefit over 10,000 tilapia fish farmers

MOROGORO: MORE than 10,000 tilapia fish farmers in ponds and cages will benefit from a new vaccination against bacterial diseases that cause deaths to tilapia fish.

This was unveiled here on Wednesday by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) Lecturer, Dr Alexander Mzula during the tour of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) team and journalists.

The visits aimed at seeing the development of the projects funded by the government through COSTECH.

“So far the vaccine has benefited 96 farmers in the regions of Mwanza Arusha and Ruvuma and is expected to benefit over 10,000 tilapia fish farmers in ponds and cages,” said Dr Mzula.

The new vaccination, Aerovac vaccination against hemorrhagic septicemia disease caused by aeromonas hydrophila bacteria was developed by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Lecturer, Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Aerovac vaccine is an environmentally friendly tilapia fish vaccination as it utilises heat attenuation instead of conventional antibiotic attenuation.

He said they did a diagnosis of diseases from a sample of 820 fish from different ponds by testing the kidneys, liver, and heart to see disease vectors and discovered that 24.6 per cent had the hemorrhagic disease. Symptoms of the disease included sores in fish.

He said that the bacterial diseases became a significant global issue, particularly hemorrhagic septicaemia, which can kill up to 100 per cent of pond fish. Dr Mzula said that in six months vaccine will be produced domestically and will be available throughout the year.

Moreover, he said the farmed fish were prone to various diseases compared to wild fish.

“This is due to factors that farmed fish are always overcrowded in ponds relative to their size, lack of pond cleaning and water replacement in ponds, all these factors expose fishes to disease,” said Dr Mzula.

Dr Mzula said the diseases are mostly found in various regions such as Mwanza, Mbeya, Ruvuma, Iringa and Kilimanjaro.

“The project was funded by COSTECH focusing at developing a vaccine for fish diseases. SUA collaborated with the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology,” he said.

Dr Mzula said the vaccine will enhance disease control compared to traditional pond management practices. The vaccine will be sold based on dosage and the number of fish fry and/ or fingerlings to be vaccinated.

This is farmer-friendly as it can be administered by fish bathing, allowing the farmer to vaccinate many tilapia fry at once.

“Currently there is no vaccine for fish diseases in the country, and we have already filed a patent applica tion to protect the innovation,” said Dr Mzula.

He said the research took approximately five years and that it is expected to be a game-changer for tilapia fish farmers in the country against the disease.

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