Trade Organisations

OATA responds to scientific paper on antibiotics resistance in tropical fish

Ornamental fishes’ resistance to antibiotics doesn’t pose a contamination threat to humans following good hygiene practises, OATA has said.

Despite the possibility of antibiotic-resistant diseases being passed from fish to humans, the risk is decreased significantly by humans following hygiene practises, such as washing hands after animal contact.

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The scientific paper preceding OATA’s response, ‘Imported ornamental fish are colonised with antibiotic-resistant bacteria’, appeared in a recent edition of Journal of Fish Diseases.

An OATA spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the resistance to antibiotics is not a new issue for the aquatic industry and the indiscriminate use of these drugs without proper veterinary supervision in other countries is of real concern. There are big discrepancies across the world on how easily antibiotics are available over the counter, which contributes to this problem. In this country, antibiotics must only be prescribed by vets who are directly supervising the treatment of the fish.

“Keeping tropical fish is a great hobby and we hope people aren’t put off this fascinating pastime. With a little careful thought, good hygiene practises and buying from reputable retailers, such as those who are members of OATA, people can enjoy their fish without great problems.”

OATA’s bullet point outline for ensuring any risk of disease is kept to a minimum is as follows:

• Always wash your hands thoroughly after working with fish.
• Always cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage and wear rubber or plastic gloves of a suitable length.
• Do not prime water siphons by mouth.
• Do not eat, drink or smoke while working on your aquarium or pond.
• Do not wash nets and equipment in sinks intended for human use.
• Immuno-suppressed persons (infected with HIV or receiving chemotherapy) should not handle potentially infected materials.
• Wash and disinfect contaminated work surfaces regularly.

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