Aquaculture in Southeast Asia

30 June 2021
Emerging invasive disease linked to raw freshwater fish
MBI researcher, Prof Ruth Zadoks, provides expert advice in a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), warning of an emerging foodborne hazard in Southeast Asia.

In 2015, medical experts in Singapore identified an unprecedented outbreak of invasive GBS (Group B Streptococcus) disease in otherwise healthy adults, which, equally unprecedentedly, was attributed to consumption of raw fish. Since 2016 A/Prof Timothy Barkham from Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore, A/Prof Swaine Chen from the Genome Institute of Singapore and Professor Ruth Zadoks have worked together to build a network of experts to understand and address the threat of GBS to aquaculture in Southeast Asia.

Together with Dr Nguyễn Ngọc Phước, Prof Zadoks obtained funding for and hosted an interdisciplinary workshop on GBS disease in aquaculture and public health in Vietnam in 2018, followed by further successful funding applications and workshops with representation from across Southeast Asia held in Singapore in 2018 and in Thailand in 2019. Workshops were attended by aquaculture experts, human and aquatic microbiologists, veterinary epidemiologists, anthropologists and biomedical engineers and FAO representatives and acted as the springboard for preparation of the FAO Risk Profile on GBS in freshwater fish.  The group continue to collaborate and to seek further funding to improve surveillance of human GBS disease in Southeast Asia, and to support development of diagnostic tests and vaccines for use in the Southeast Asian aquaculture industry.