Antimicrobials and resistant bacteria in global fish farming and the possible risk for public health

Antimicrobianos e bactérias resistentes na piscicultura global e o possível risco para a saúde pública

Luís Eduardo de Souza Gazal Kelly Cristina Tagliari de Brito Renata Katsuko Takayama Kobayashi Gerson Nakazato Lissandra Souto Cavalli Luciana Kazue Otutumi Benito Guimarães de Brito About the authors

ABSTRACT:

The use of antimicrobials in fish farming is a reflection of the fast aquaculture development worldwide. The intensification of aquaculture to achieve market demands could lead to an increase in infectious diseases by pathogenic bacteria. Consequently, antimicrobials act as controls for emerging infectious diseases, but their use must follow the rules and regulations of the country where the activity is performed. Although the regulations impose limits to the use of antimicrobials in fish farming, many studies show that resistant bacteria are isolated from this system. The selection of resistant bacteria is not limited only to the use of antimicrobials, but also to co-selection of resistance genes or even with cross-resistance processes. Resistant bacteria from fish farming are a serious concern because they can be acquired by humans with handling or food chain, which may represent a public health problem. In the present review, we present an overview of antimicrobials use in aquaculture, the antimicrobial resistance and the impact of antimicrobial and bacterial resistance from a public health perspective.

KEYWORDS:
aquaculture; animal husbandry; fish production; antimicrobial resistance; food safety

RESUMO:

O uso de antimicrobianos na piscicultura é um reflexo do rápido desenvolvimento da aquicultura em todo o mundo. A intensificação da aquicultura para suprir as demandas do mercado pode levar ao aumento de doenças infecciosas por bactérias patogênicas. Consequentemente, os antimicrobianos atuam no controle de doenças infecciosas emergentes, mas seu uso deve seguir as regras e regulamentos do país onde a atividade é realizada. Embora os regulamentos imponham limites ao uso de antimicrobianos na piscicultura, muitos estudos mostram que bactérias resistentes são isoladas desse sistema. A seleção de bactérias resistentes não se limita apenas ao uso de antimicrobianos, mas também à cosseleção de genes de resistência ou mesmo por meio do processo de resistência cruzada. As bactérias resistentes da piscicultura são uma preocupação séria, uma vez que tais bactérias podem ser adquiridas pelos seres humanos no manuseio ou na cadeia alimentar, o que pode representar um problema de saúde pública. Nesta revisão, apresentamos uma visão geral do uso de antimicrobianos na aquicultura, a resistência antimicrobiana e o impacto da resistência antimicrobiana e bacteriana do ponto de vista da saúde pública.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE:
aquicultura; criação animal; produção de peixe; resistência antimicrobiana; alimentos seguros

INTRODUCTION

Global fish production is an activity that has been growing rapidly and is a major source of food for humans (HEUER et al., 2009HEUER, O.E.; KRUSE, H.; GRAVE, K.; COLLINGNON, P.; KARUNASAGAR, I.; ANGULO, F.J. Human health consequences of use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Chicago, v.49, n.8, p.1248-1253, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1086/605667
https://doi.org/10.1086/605667...
; FAO, 2018FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (FAO). The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome: FAO, 2018. 210p. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/i9540en/i9540en.pdf. Access on: May 5 2019.
http://www.fao.org/3/i9540en/i9540en.pdf...
). In 1961, the consumption of fish per capita in the world was 9.0 kg, which grew to 20.3 kg in 2016 (FAO, 2018FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (FAO). The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome: FAO, 2018. 210p. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/i9540en/i9540en.pdf. Access on: May 5 2019.
http://www.fao.org/3/i9540en/i9540en.pdf...
), exceeding the 12 kg per capita/year rate suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) (FLORES, 2013FLORES, A. Consumo per capita de peixes cresce no Brasil, diz FAO. 2013. http:s//nacoesunidas.org/consumo-per-capita-de-peixes-cresce-no-brasil-diz-fao.
http:s//nacoesunidas.org/consumo-per-cap...
). This increase in consumption may be justified by the search for healthier eating habits: fish meat is a good alternative (CREPALDI et al., 2006CREPALDI, D.V.; FARIA, P.M.C.; TEIXEIRA, E.A.; RIBEIRO, L.P.; COSTA, A.A.P.; MELO, D.C.; CINTRA, A.P.R.; PRADO, S.A.; COSTA, F.A.A.; DRUMOND, M.L.; LOPES, V.E.; MORAES, V.E. A situação da aquacultura e da pesca no Brasil e no mundo. Revista Brasileira de Reprodução Animal, Belo Horizonte, v.30, n.3-4, p.81-85, 2006.).

According to FAO (2014)FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (FAO). The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture – Opportunities and challenges. Rome: FAO, 2014. 243p. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3720e.pdf. Access on: Apr. 5 2018.
http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3720e.pdf...
, population growth, rising incomes and urbanization are factors that contribute to the increase in production. However, the possible emergence of bacterial diseases and the need to treat sick animals also increase (SHOEMAKER et al., 2000SHOEMAKER, C.A.; EVANS, J.J.; KLESIUS, P.H. Density and dose: factors affecting mortality of Streptococcus iniae infected tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.188, n.3-4, p.229-235, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0044-8486(00)00346-X
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0044-8486(00)00...
; MIRANDA et al., 2013MIRANDA, C.D.; TELLO, A.; KEEN, P.L. Mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in finfish aquaculture environments. Frontiers in Microbiology, Lausanne, v.4, p.1-6, 2013. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00233
https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00233...
). Aeromonas sp., Vibrio sp., Streptococcus sp., and Edwardsiella tarda are the mains pathogens that cause diseases in fish. These strains are responsible for different infectious diseases, such as skin lesions, abscesses, bleeding, and sepsis; these pathogens increase morbidity and mortality in fish and cause significant economic loss.

Thus, the use of antimicrobial drugs in the treatment and prevention of diseases was chosen as a method to solve this problem (OKACHA et al., 2018OKACHA, R.C.; OLATOYE, I.O.; ADEDEJI, O.B. Food safety impacts of antimicrobial use and their residues in aquaculture. Public Health Reviews, London, v.39, n.21, p.1-22, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-2
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-...
). The use of these drugs in aquaculture is important for successfully treating sick fish and maintaining the health and well-being of animals (MIRANDA et al., 2013MIRANDA, C.D.; TELLO, A.; KEEN, P.L. Mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in finfish aquaculture environments. Frontiers in Microbiology, Lausanne, v.4, p.1-6, 2013. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00233
https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00233...
). However, the use of these drugs must be carefully regulated and supervised. In past years, a great increase in the use of antimicrobials, especially on leading fish farms. In Vietnam, antimicrobial use in the production of pangasius catfish reached about 400,000 tonnes in 2010 (RICO et al., 2012RICO, A.; SATAPORNVANIL, K.; HAQUE, M.M.; MIN. J.; NGUYEN, P.T.; TELFER, T.C.; VAN DEN BRINK, P.J. Use of chemicals and biological products in Asian aquaculture and their potential environmental risks: a critical review. Review in Aquaculture, Brisbane, v.4, n.2, p.75-93, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-5131.2012.01062.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-5131.2012...
). In Chilean salmon production, approximately 200,000 tonnes were used in 2000, doubling to 400,000 tonnes in 2007 (CABELLO et al., 2013CABELLO, F.C.; GODFREY, H.P.; TOMOVA, A.; IVANOVA, L.; DOLZ, H.; MILLANAO, A.; BUSCHMANN, A.H. Antimicrobial use in aquaculture re-examined: its relevance to antimicrobial resistance and to animal and human health. Environmental Microbiology, Malden, v.15, n.7, p.1917-1942, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.12134
https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.12134...
).

This high numbers of antimicrobial agents in the production and in the aquatic environment play an important role in the selection of resistant bacteria. For CABELLO et al. (2016)CABELLO, F.C.; GODFREY, H.P.; BUSCHMANN, A.H.; DOLZ, H.J. Aquaculture as yet another environmental gateway to the development and globalization of antimicrobial resistance. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.16, n.7, p.e127-e133, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(16)00100-6
https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(16)00...
, the aquatic environment (freshwater and marine) can serve as both a reservoir of resistant bacteria and genes encoding antimicrobial resistance. The development and spread of resistant bacteria combined with the presence of antimicrobial residues in the environment represent dangerous risks to public health (ROMERO et al., 2012ROMERO, J.; FEIJOÓ, C.G.; NAVARRETE, P. Antibiotics in aquacultureuse, abuse and alternatives. In: CARVALHO, E. (Ed.). Health and Environment in Aquaculture. Rijeka: INTECH, 2012. p. 59-198. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-environment-in-aquaculture/antibiotics-in-aquaculture-use-abuse-and-alternatives. Access on: Nov. 27 2018. https://doi.org/10.5772/28157
https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-...
; DONE et al., 2015DONE, H.Y.; VENKATESAN, A.K.; HALDEN, R.U. Does the recent growth of aquaculture create antibiotic resistance threats different from those associated with land animal production in agriculture? The AAPS Journal, Arlington, v.17, n.3, p.513-524, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-015-9722-z
https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-015-9722-...
).

The dependence on these drugs shows how such actions must carried on with caution and can result in serious problems both in production (mortality and economic loss) and for humans' health. Thus, the present review aims to show the world's fish farming from the perspective of antibiotic use. Firstly, we discuss the use of antimicrobials licensed in world production; then, we present the main pathogenic bacteria found in fish production and its resistance profile to antimicrobial agents. Finally, we show how antimicrobial use and bacterial resistance could impact human health.

Regulation on the use and distribution of antimicrobials in fish aquaculture

None of antimicrobial drugs used in bacterial infections are exclusively developed for aquaculture, although traditionally used in veterinary and human medicine. However, few antimicrobials are approved for use in aquaculture when compared to the greater number of drugs used for treatments of other animals, such as chicken. Information on the regulation and use of antimicrobials in aquaculture varies according to the country.

Why and how the applications of these drugs are performed in aquaculture? The increase in production and density of fish in farms causes diseases to emerge (SHOEMAKER et al., 2000SHOEMAKER, C.A.; EVANS, J.J.; KLESIUS, P.H. Density and dose: factors affecting mortality of Streptococcus iniae infected tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.188, n.3-4, p.229-235, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0044-8486(00)00346-X
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0044-8486(00)00...
). Just like in other types of animal production (cattle, pigs, and poultry), the aquaculture industry uses antibiotics to control bacterial diseases (ALDERMAN; HASTINGS, 1998ALDERMAN, D.J.; HASTINGS, T.S. Antibiotic use in aquaculture: development of antibiotic resistance – potential for consumer health risks. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, Oxford, v.33, n.2, p.139-155, 1998. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.1998.3320139.x
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.1998...
; DEFOIRDT et al., 2011DEFOIRDT, T.; SORGELOOS, P.; BOSSIER, P. Alternatives to antibiotics for the control of bacterial disease in aquaculture. Current Opinion in Microbiology, London, v.14, n.3, p.251-258, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2011.03.004
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2011.03.00...
; DONE et al., 2015DONE, H.Y.; VENKATESAN, A.K.; HALDEN, R.U. Does the recent growth of aquaculture create antibiotic resistance threats different from those associated with land animal production in agriculture? The AAPS Journal, Arlington, v.17, n.3, p.513-524, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-015-9722-z
https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-015-9722-...
). Moreover, the regulation of antimicrobials in aquaculture is a factor that influences the range of agents accepted for use in each country (SMITH, 2008SMITH, P. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), Paris, v.27, n.1, p.243-264, 2008.).

Therefore, there are three ways to administer antimicrobials in aquatic animals: incorporate the drug into the feed; into the water; or into injections (SMITH, 2008SMITH, P. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), Paris, v.27, n.1, p.243-264, 2008.; HEUER et al., 2009HEUER, O.E.; KRUSE, H.; GRAVE, K.; COLLINGNON, P.; KARUNASAGAR, I.; ANGULO, F.J. Human health consequences of use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Chicago, v.49, n.8, p.1248-1253, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1086/605667
https://doi.org/10.1086/605667...
). The method varies according to the health of fish in the tanks or depending on the purpose, such as infection prevention or rapid growth. Therapeutic use is applied to treat an established infection, whereas prophylactic use prevents the development of future infections (ROMERO et al., 2012ROMERO, J.; FEIJOÓ, C.G.; NAVARRETE, P. Antibiotics in aquacultureuse, abuse and alternatives. In: CARVALHO, E. (Ed.). Health and Environment in Aquaculture. Rijeka: INTECH, 2012. p. 59-198. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-environment-in-aquaculture/antibiotics-in-aquaculture-use-abuse-and-alternatives. Access on: Nov. 27 2018. https://doi.org/10.5772/28157
https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-...
). Some antimicrobials are also used as growth promoters, wherein low doses of antimicrobial agents are applied to increase the feed efficiency of animals and consequently increase weight gain. However, the use of antimicrobials for this purpose is questioned by the scientific community, because it can select resistant bacteria (MARSHALL; LEVY, 2011MARSHALL, B.M.; LEVY, S.B. Food animals and antimicrobials: impacts on human health. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Washington, v.24, n.4, p.718-733, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00002-11
https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00002-11...
).

GUICHARD; LICEK (2006)GUICHARD, B.; LICEK, E. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. A comparative study of antibiotics registered for use in farmed fish in European countries. Poster presented at the First OIE Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health, 10 October, Bergen, Norway, 2006. identified oxytetracycline, first generation quinolones, sulphonamides, florfenicol, and amoxicillin present in products used in aquaculture in several European countries. However, in each country, no more than two or three antimicrobials are licensed for use in this type of activity. The limited availability of antimicrobial drugs for use in aquaculture is due to the establishment of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) proposed by the European Commission in 1990 (RODGERS; FURONES, 2009RODGERS, C.J.; FURONES, M.D. Antimicrobial agents in aquaculture: practice, needs and issues. Options Méditerranéennes, Montpellier, série A, n.86, p.41-59, 2009.).

In Norway, the largest producer of salmon in the world, antimicrobial regulation is performed to control the volume and class of these agents in production. The country's implementation of a record was the result of several surveys indicating that the extensive use of antibiotics is not only harmful to aquaculture but also to the environment and human health. In addition to this control, the application of more hygienic management practices and the introduction of effective vaccines against infections contribute to the reduction in the use of antimicrobial drugs by the Norwegian industry (BURRIDGE et al., 2010BURRIDGE, L.; WEIS, J.S.; CABELLO, F.; PIZARRO, J.; BOSTICK, K. Chemical use in salmon aquaculture: a review of current practices and possible environmental effects. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.306, n.1-4, p.7-23, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2010.05.020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
).

In Chile, the second largest salmon producer in the world, the antimicrobials that are registered for use are: oxolinic acid, amoxicillin, erythromycin, flumequine, florfenicol, and oxytetracycline. However, farmers should report incidences of infections, which drugs were prescribed, as well as the posology and method of administration of those products to be able to use antibiotics (BURRIDGE et al., 2010BURRIDGE, L.; WEIS, J.S.; CABELLO, F.; PIZARRO, J.; BOSTICK, K. Chemical use in salmon aquaculture: a review of current practices and possible environmental effects. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.306, n.1-4, p.7-23, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2010.05.020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
). Unlike the Norwegian industry, Chilean aquaculture uses a large number of antimicrobials in the production of salmon. Scientific research conducted by SMITH (2008)SMITH, P. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), Paris, v.27, n.1, p.243-264, 2008., which shows an estimated number of antimicrobials used by some countries, the author showed that Chilean aquaculture used 200 times more antimicrobials than the Norwegian production did (SMITH, 2008SMITH, P. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), Paris, v.27, n.1, p.243-264, 2008.). This may be justified by the presence of specific pathogens, such as Piscirickettsia salmonis, which are common agents of disease in Chilean aquaculture, but do not cause problems in other countries, such as Norway (BURRIDGE et al., 2010BURRIDGE, L.; WEIS, J.S.; CABELLO, F.; PIZARRO, J.; BOSTICK, K. Chemical use in salmon aquaculture: a review of current practices and possible environmental effects. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.306, n.1-4, p.7-23, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2010.05.020
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
).

In the United States, five drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in aquaculture, including four antimicrobials: oxytetracycline, florfenicol, sulfamiderazin, and sulfadimetozine combined with ormetoprim (BENBROOK, 2002BENBROOK, C.M. Antibiotic drug use in US aquaculture. Sandpoint, Idaho: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2002. Report 2. Available from: https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/421_2_37397.pdf. Access on: Oct. 03 2015.
https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files...
; ROMERO et al., 2012ROMERO, J.; FEIJOÓ, C.G.; NAVARRETE, P. Antibiotics in aquacultureuse, abuse and alternatives. In: CARVALHO, E. (Ed.). Health and Environment in Aquaculture. Rijeka: INTECH, 2012. p. 59-198. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-environment-in-aquaculture/antibiotics-in-aquaculture-use-abuse-and-alternatives. Access on: Nov. 27 2018. https://doi.org/10.5772/28157
https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-...
). In Canada and Norway, the limitation of antimicrobial use is related to the application of vaccines (MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND LANDS, 2009MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND LANDS, ANIMAL HEALTH BRANCH, FISH HEALTH. Annual report - fish health program 2009. British Columbia: Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Animal Health Branch, Fish Health. 2009. 58p. Available from: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/fisheries-and-aquaculture/aquaculturereports/fish_health_report_2009.pdf. Access on: Nov. 27 2018.
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farmin...
).

In Brazil, only florfenicol and oxytetracycline can be used to treat bacterial infections in aquaculture (PÁDUA et al., 2012PÁDUA, S.B.; MENEZES FILHO, R.N.; CRUZ, C. Alevinos saudáveis: o ponto de partida para uma produção estável. Panorama da Aquicultura, Rio de Janeiro, v.22, n.134, p.30-37, 2012.), according to the norms of the National Programme for the Control of Residues and Contaminants (Plano Nacional de Controle de Resíduos e Contaminantes – PNCRC) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento – MAPA). This reduced regulation on antimicrobial agents for use in aquaculture is unfavorable, because it may lead producers to irregular use of other antimicrobial substances. HASHIMOTO et al. (2011)HASHIMOTO, J.C.; PASCHOAL, J.A.R.; QUEIROZ, J.F.; REYES, F.G.R. Considerations on the use of malachite green in aquaculture and analytical aspects of determining the residues in fish: a review. Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology, Abingdon, v.20, n.3, p.273-294, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1080/10498850.2011.569643
https://doi.org/10.1080/10498850.2011.56...
reports that many producers in Brazil use the malachite green dye as an alternative to antimicrobials. Although the dye has excellent results against a large number of microorganisms, it is also highly toxic to aquatic and terrestrial animals, and its application results in serious risks to human health, in both public and occupational perspective. In contrast, fluoroquinolones are promising, since they are approved in Brazil for use in other types of livestock (cattle, chicken, and pig) and are also approved in other countries, such as the European Union, Japan and China (QUESADA et al., 2013QUESADA, S.P.; PASCHOAL, J.A.R.; REYES, F.G. Considerations on the aquaculture development and on the use of veterinary drugs: special issue for fluoroquinolones-a review. Journal of Food Science, Champaign, v.78, n.9, p.R1321-R1333, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.12222
https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.12222...
).

Many Asian countries rank among the production leaders in aquaculture. Consequently, scientific papers report a wide range of antimicrobials used in these countries. In a review published by RICO et al. (2012)RICO, A.; SATAPORNVANIL, K.; HAQUE, M.M.; MIN. J.; NGUYEN, P.T.; TELFER, T.C.; VAN DEN BRINK, P.J. Use of chemicals and biological products in Asian aquaculture and their potential environmental risks: a critical review. Review in Aquaculture, Brisbane, v.4, n.2, p.75-93, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-5131.2012.01062.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-5131.2012...
, approximately 36 different antimicrobials used in aquaculture in Asian countries were reported. These antibiotics belong to several classes, such as beta-lactams, tetracyclines, sulphonamides, aminoglycosides, macrolides, quinolones, nitrofurans, amphenicol, colistin, and even inhibitors, such as trimethoprim. This is a great concern considering that a wide range of antimicrobials is frequently used, such as colistin, a medicine commonly used in human medicine. Because it is a potent antibiotic, the use of colistin is restricted and can be toxic in high doses for humans. Nevertheless, with the increase in the prevalence of ‘super’-resistant bacteria to other drugs, colistin has been introduced as a therapeutic option (POIREL et al., 2017POIREL, L.; JAYOL, A.; NORDMANN, P. Polymyxins: antibacterial activity, susceptibility testing, and resistance mechanisms encoded by plasmids or chromosomes. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Washington, v.30, n.2, p.557-596, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1128/cmr.00064-16
https://doi.org/10.1128/cmr.00064-16...
). Obviously, just like with other drugs, the indiscriminate application of colistin in animal production may promote the emergence of super-resistant bacteria.

LIU et al. (2016)LIU, Y.Y.; WANG, Y.; WALSH, T.R.; YI, L.; ZHANG, R.; SPENCER, J.; DOI, Y.; TIAN, G.; DONG, B.; HUANG, X.; YU, L.F.; GU, D.; REN, H.; CHEN, X.; LV, L.; HE, D.; ZHOU, H.; LIANG, Z.; SHEN, J. Emergence of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism MCR-1 in animals and human beings in China: a microbiological and molecular biological study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.16, n.2, p.161-168, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(15)00424-7
https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(15)00...
observed that the high frequency of resistance to colistin in humans in China is related to its intense use in animal production. The gene responsible for resistance to colistin (mcr-1) may have emerged in Chinese animal production due to the use of drug since the eighties (SHEN et al., 2016SHEN, Z.; WANG, Y.; SHEN, Y.; SHEN, J.; WU, C. Early emergence of mcr-1 in Escherichia coli from food-producing animals. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.16, n.3, p.293, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(16)00061-x
https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(16)00...
). Approximately 70% of China's production is for exports, which creates some concern regarding food safety (BROUGHTON; WALKER, 2010BROUGHTON, E.I.; WALKER, D.G. Policies and practices for aquaculture food safety in China. Food Policy, Amsterdam, v.35, n.5, p.471-478, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2010.05.007
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2010.0...
). The intensive and unnecessary use of antibiotics in fish farming interferes with the increase of bacterial resistance, which also damages production itself.

Resistant bacteria in fish production

More than 100 bacterial species have been isolated from animals in aquaculture, but few of them have the potential to be pathogenic or significantly impact production (ALDERMAN; HASTINGS, 1998ALDERMAN, D.J.; HASTINGS, T.S. Antibiotic use in aquaculture: development of antibiotic resistance – potential for consumer health risks. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, Oxford, v.33, n.2, p.139-155, 1998. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.1998.3320139.x
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.1998...
). However, both pathogenic and antimicrobial resistant bacteria are found in fish farming (GASTALHO et al., 2014GASTALHO, S.; SILVA, G.J.; RAMOS, F. Uso de antibióticos em aquacultura e resistência bacteriana: impacto em saúde pública. Acta Farmacêutica Portuguesa, Porto, v.3, n.1, p.29-45, 2014.), which are stimulated with the use of antibiotics to treat infections or as additives to promote growth (GAO et al., 2012GAO, P.; MAO, D.; LUO, Y.; WANG, L.; XU, B.; XU, L. Occurrence of sulfonamide and tetracycline-resistant bacteria and resistance genes in aquaculture environment. Water Research, Amsterdam, v.46, n.7, p.2355-2364, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2012.02.004
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2012.02...
). Pathogenic or aquatic bacteria may develop antimicrobial resistance when exposed to such drugs (ROMERO et al., 2012ROMERO, J.; FEIJOÓ, C.G.; NAVARRETE, P. Antibiotics in aquacultureuse, abuse and alternatives. In: CARVALHO, E. (Ed.). Health and Environment in Aquaculture. Rijeka: INTECH, 2012. p. 59-198. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-environment-in-aquaculture/antibiotics-in-aquaculture-use-abuse-and-alternatives. Access on: Nov. 27 2018. https://doi.org/10.5772/28157
https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-...
).

Nevertheless, bacterial resistance can also be promoted by co-selection or even by cross-resistance. According to SEILER; BERENDONK (2012)SEILER, C.; BERENDONK, T.U. Heavy metal driven co-selection of antibiotic resistance in soil and water bodies impacted by agriculture and aquaculture. Frontiers in Microbiology, Lausanne, v.3, p.399, 2012. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2012.00399
https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2012.00399...
, it is likely that the evolution of antimicrobial resistance and its spread was caused by anthropogenic pollutants, such as heavy metals. These metals can co-select mobile genetic elements that harbor genes that confer multiresistance (WELLINGTON et al., 2013WELLINGTON, E.M.H.; BOXALL, A.B.A.; CROSS, P.; FEIL, E.J.; GAZE, W.H.; HAWKEY, P.M.; JOHNSON-ROLLINGS, A.S.; JONES, D.L.; LEE, N.M.; OTTEN, W.; THOMAS, C.M.; WILLIAMS, A.P. The role of the natural environment in the emergence of antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.13, n.2, p.155-165, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(12)70317-1
https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(12)70...
). This shows us that more attention is needed to human actions and their role in the selection and dissemination of resistance genes. The persistence of fluoroquinolones in the environment may promote co-selection of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) genes, once that genes encoding resistance to both classes are often found in class 1 integrons (WELLINGTON et al., 2013WELLINGTON, E.M.H.; BOXALL, A.B.A.; CROSS, P.; FEIL, E.J.; GAZE, W.H.; HAWKEY, P.M.; JOHNSON-ROLLINGS, A.S.; JONES, D.L.; LEE, N.M.; OTTEN, W.; THOMAS, C.M.; WILLIAMS, A.P. The role of the natural environment in the emergence of antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.13, n.2, p.155-165, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(12)70317-1
https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(12)70...
). Certain antimicrobial drugs, even when applied only in the human medicine or veterinary medicine, may promote cross-resistance to several antimicrobials. Although its use is unique in veterinary medicine, enrofloxacin may promote cross-resistance to ciprofloxacin, which is used in cases of human medicine infections. In addition, cross-resistance may occur in antimicrobials of different classes, as observed in the case of oxolinic acid (quinolone), which may promote cross-resistance to oxytetracycline (tetracycline) (HOLMSTRÖM et al., 2003HOLMSTRÖM, K.; GRÄSLUND, S.; WAHLSTRÖM, A.; POUNGSHOMPOO, S.; BENGTSSON, B.E.; KAUTSKY, N. Antibiotic use in shrimp farming and implications for environmental impacts and human health. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, Oxford, v.38, n.3, p.255-266, 2003. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.2003.00671.x
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2621.2003...
).

Resistance profiles of main pathogenic bacteria isolated from fish

Aeromonas spp.

The Aeromonas genus comprises a group of Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic bacteria, found in soil and water. Additionally, it can be associated to various infectious diseases found in animals and humans (IGBINOSA et al., 2012IGBINOSA, I.H.; IGUMBOR, E.U.; AGHDASI, F.; TOM, M.; OKOH, A. Emerging Aeromonas species infections and their significance in public health. Scientific World Journal, New York, v.2012, p.1-13, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1100/2012/625023
https://doi.org/10.1100/2012/625023...
). Aeromonas is classified into two groups: mobile mesophilic with optimal growth between 35 and 37°C, associated to various diseases in humans; and psychrophilic, non-mobile, with optimal growth between 22 and 25°C, which can infect both fish and reptiles (MARTIN-CARNAHAN, 2005MARTIN-CARNAHAN, A.; JOSEPH, S.W. Genus I. Aeromonas. In: BRENNER, D. J.; KRIEG, N. R.; STALEY, J. T. (Ed.). Bergey's manual of systematic bacteriology. The Proteobacteria. Part B. The Gammaproteobacteria. v.2. 2.ed. New York: Springer, 2005. p.556-578.).

The main species associated to infections in fish are Aeromonas hydrophila, A. sobria, A. salmonicida, A. veronii (MAJUMDAR et al., 2006MAJUMDAR, T.; GHOSH, S.; PAL, J.; MAZUMDER, S. Possible role of a plasmid in the pathogenesis of a fish disease caused by Aeromonas hydrophila. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.256, n.1-4, p.95-104, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2006.02.042
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
; IGBINOSA et al., 2012IGBINOSA, I.H.; IGUMBOR, E.U.; AGHDASI, F.; TOM, M.; OKOH, A. Emerging Aeromonas species infections and their significance in public health. Scientific World Journal, New York, v.2012, p.1-13, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1100/2012/625023
https://doi.org/10.1100/2012/625023...
). The stress generated by inadequate management can generate a trigger for the appearance of infections caused by Aeromonas sp. in fish production (SAAVEDRA et al., 2004SAAVEDRA, M.J.; NOVAIS-GUEDES, S.; ALVES, A.; REMA, P.; TACÃO, M.; CORREIA, A.; MARTÍNEZ-MURCIA, A. Resistance to β-lactam antibiotics in Aeromonas hydrophila isolated from rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss). International Microbiology, Barcelona, v.7, n.3, p.207-211, 2004.). Consequently, the use of antibiotics is the alternative for controlling the disease.

The antimicrobial resistance of Aeromonas sp. is widely identified. PENDERS; STOBBERINGH (2008)PENDERS, J.; STOBBERINGH, E.E. Antibiotic resistance of motile aeromonads in indoor catfish and eel farms in the southern part of The Netherlands. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Amsterdam, v.31, n.3, p.261-265, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2007.10.002
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.20...
investigated the resistance profile of Aeromonas sp., isolated from catfish and eel created in closed systems in the Netherlands. A total of 79 isolates were submitted to antimicrobial susceptibility testing, in which resistance rates were observed for ampicillin (96%), oxytetracycline (65%), and trimethoprim (23%). SAAVEDRA et al. (2004)SAAVEDRA, M.J.; NOVAIS-GUEDES, S.; ALVES, A.; REMA, P.; TACÃO, M.; CORREIA, A.; MARTÍNEZ-MURCIA, A. Resistance to β-lactam antibiotics in Aeromonas hydrophila isolated from rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss). International Microbiology, Barcelona, v.7, n.3, p.207-211, 2004. identified the presence of A. hydrophila isolated from rainbow trout in an experimental unit in Portugal. Certain strains showed high levels of resistance to beta-lactams antibiotics: amoxicillin (88%), ticarcillin (76%), ampicillin (65%), cephalothin (65%), and cefepime (54%). The authors also observed that some strains were resistant to imipenem (19%), an antimicrobial that belongs to the group of carbapenems used in human infections.

The intrinsic resistance of the Aeromonas genus to beta-lactams antibiotics is associated to a chromosomal beta-lactamase expression or an activation of efflux pumps (GASTALHO et al., 2014GASTALHO, S.; SILVA, G.J.; RAMOS, F. Uso de antibióticos em aquacultura e resistência bacteriana: impacto em saúde pública. Acta Farmacêutica Portuguesa, Porto, v.3, n.1, p.29-45, 2014.). Genes that confer resistance to a broad spectrum of beta-lactams antibiotics were identified in the genus. HENRIQUES et al. (2006)HENRIQUES, I.S.; FONSECA, F.; ALVES, A.; SAAVEDRA, M.J.; CORREIA, A. Occurrence and diversity of integrons and β-lactamase genes among ampicillin-resistant isolates from estuarine waters. Research in Microbiology, Amsterdam, v.157, n.10, p.938-947, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resmic.2006.09.003
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resmic.2006.09...
observed that 10.5% of Aeromonas sp., isolated from an estuary, possessed beta-lactamases genes, especially the gene blaTEM. ESBL are encoded on mobile genetic elements, such as plasmids, transposons and integrons, which also harbour resistance genes to other classes of antimicrobials (PITOUT; LAUPLAND, 2008ITOUT, J.D.D.; LAUPLAND, K.B. Extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae: an emerging public-health concern. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, New York, v.8, n.3, p.159-166, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(08)70041-0
https://doi.org/10.1016/s1473-3099(08)70...
). Strains producing ESBL can hamper treatment and increase the morbidity of diseases associated to bacterial infections. CARVALHO et al. (2012)CARVALHO, M.J.; MARTÍNEZ-MURCIA, A.; ESTEVES, A.C.; CORREIA, A.; SAAVEDRA, M.J. Phylogenetic diversity, antibiotic resistance and virulence traits of Aeromonas spp. from untreated waters for human consumption. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Amsterdam, v.159, n.3, p.230-239, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.09.008
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.20...
showed that 59% of untreated water isolates were resistant to at least two classes of antimicrobials. Furthermore, the presence of the tet gene encoding resistance to tetracycline in 10%, and the bla gene in approximately 29% of isolates was observed. The tet gene found in Aeromonas species is a result of strong anthropogenic pressure on aquaculture due to the use of antimicrobials, such as tetracycline (NAWAZ et al., 2006NAWAZ, M.; SUNG, K.; KHAN, S.A.; KHAN, A.A.; STEELE, R. Biochemical and molecular characterization of tetracycline-resistant Aeromonas veronii isolates from catfish. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Washington, v.72, n.10, p.6461-6466, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1128/aem.00271-06
https://doi.org/10.1128/aem.00271-06...
). In contrast, in Australia, although no antimicrobials are licensed for use in aquaculture, NDI; BARTON (2011)NDI, O.L.; BARTON, M.D. Incidence of class 1 integron and other antibiotic resistance determinants in Aeromonas spp. from rainbow trout farms in Australia. Journal of Fish Diseases, Oxford, v.34, n.8, p.589-599, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2761.2011.01272.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2761.2011...
observed that 100% of Aeromonas strains isolated from fish present the tet gene. Although Aeromonas sp. presents typical characteristics of antimicrobial susceptibility, resistance profiles vary between studies because of the specific traits of the strains or selective pressure of the environment (JANDA; ABBOTT, 2010JANDA, J.M.; ABBOTT, S.L. The genus Aeromonas: taxonomy pathogenicity and infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Washington, v.23, n.1, p.35-73, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00039-09
https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00039-09...
).

Another important factor in the resistance of Aeromonas sp. is linked to the activation of efflux pumps. The AheABC system, encoded by genes Ahe A, Ahe B, and Ahe C of A. hydrophila, is involved in the phenotype of multidrug resistance to cefuroxime, cefoperazone, erythromycin, lincomycin, pristinamycin, minocycline, trimethoprim, fusidic acid, and rifampin (HERNOULD et al., 2008HERNOULD, M.; GAGNÉ, M.F.; QUENTIN, C.; ARPIN, C. Role of the AheABC efflux pump in Aeromonas hydrophila intrinsic multidrug resistance. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Bethesda, v.52, n.4, p.1559-1563, 2008. 10.1128/AAC.01052-07).

Streptococcus spp.

The genus Streptococcus belongs to the Streptococcaceae family and is Gram-positive cocci, which occurs in pairs or chains and has a diversity of species associated to infectious processes in humans (WHILEY; HARDIE, 2005WHILEY, R.A.; HARDIE, J.M. Genus I. Streptococcus. In: BRENNER, D.J.; KRIEG, N.R.; STALEY, J.T. (Ed.). Bergey's manual of systematic bacteriology. The Firmicutes. v.3. 2.ed. New York: Springer, 2005. p.655-711.). Six Streptococcus species are described as major pathogens in fish: S. parauberis, S. agalactiae, S. iniae, S. dysgalactiae, S. phocae, and S. ictaluri. Infections caused by Streptococcus sp. are called “estreptococosis” (FIGUEIREDO; LEAL, 2012FIGUEIREDO, H.C.P.; COSTA, F.A.A.; LEAL, C.A.G.; CARVALHO-CASTRO, G.A.; LEITE, R.C. Weissella sp. outbreaks in commercial rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) farms in Brazil. Veterinary Microbiology, Ames, v.156, n.3-4, p.359-366, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.11.008
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.11...
).

ABDELSALAM et al. (2010)ABDELSALAM, M.; CHEN, S.C.; YOSHIDA, T. Phenotypic and genetic characterizations of Streptococcus dysgalactiae strains isolated from fish collected in Japan and other Asian countries. FEMS Microbiology Letters, Amsterdam, v.302, n.1, p.32-38, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009.01828.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009...
isolated S. dysgalactiae from sick fish in Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The authors observed that 56% were resistant to oxytetracycline and harboured the tet gene. In Brazil, the antimicrobial susceptibility in strains of S. agalactiae isolated from Nile tilapia (FIGUEIREDO et al., 2006FIGUEIREDO, H.P.C.; CARNEIRO, D.O.; FARIA, F.C.; COSTA, G.M. Streptococcus agalactiae associado a meningoencefalite e infecção sistêmica em tilápia-do-Nilo (Oreochromis niloticus) no Brasil. Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Belo Horizonte, v.58, n.4, p.678-680, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0102-09352006000400036
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0102-0935200600...
) was tested. The authors observed that the strains were resistant to nalidixic acid, gentamicin, and neomycin. This resistance profile can be related to selective pression due to previous contact with these antibiotics. Such data are interesting, because only florfenicol and oxytetracycline are licensed for use in Brazilian aquaculture, demonstrating the need for more accurate monitoring of both the use of antimicrobials in aquaculture and the contamination of water by residues from other animal farms.

Vibrio spp.

The bacteria of Vibrio genus are Gram-negative curved rods, mobile due to the presence of a polar flagellum; they exhibit a fermentative metabolism. Vibrio sp. is associated to diseases in aquatic animals. Vibrio anguillarum is responsible for what is called “scarlet fever” in eels, but can infect other fish, causing necrosis in the abdominal muscles and erythema around the lid and inside the mouth (AUSTIN; AUSTIN, 2012AUSTIN, B.; AUSTIN, D.A. Bacterial fish pathogens, disease of farmed and wild fish. 5.ed. Godalming: Springer Praxis, 2012.). Some species, such as V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, may cause infections in both fish and humans (AUSTIN, 2010AUSTIN, B. Vibrios as causal agents of zoonoses. Veterinary Microbiology, Ames, v.140, n.3-4, p.310-317, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.03.015
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.03...
). V. vulnificus represents a public health problem, since it can be acquired in the food chain by consume of raw or undercooked fish (OLIVER, 2005OLIVER, J.D. Wound infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus and other marine bacteria. Epidemiology and Infection, Cambridge, v.133, n.3, p.383-391, 2005. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0950268805003894
https://doi.org/10.1017/s095026880500389...
).

GARCÍA-ALJARO et al. (2014)GARCÍA-ALJARO, C.; RIERA-HEREDIA, J.; BLANCH, A.R. Antimicrobial resistance and presence of the SXT mobile element in Vibrio spp. isolated from aquaculture facilities. New Microbiologica, Pavia, v.37, n.3, p.339-346, 2014., studying bacterial isolates of fish from various countries in Europe, identified approximate 20 species of the genus Vibrio, especially V. anguillarum (42%) and V. vulnificus (18%). The authors observed that the strains of V. anguillarum showed high rates of resistance to amikacin (89%), ampicillin (97%), aztreonam (44%), streptomycin (39%), and cefoxitin (87%).

Edwardsiella sp.

The Edwardsiella genus, as well as Escherichia, belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family. They are frequently isolated from infections of fish, such as catfish and eels, causing economic loss for many producers. Moreover, opportunistic pathogens are infrequently causing gastroenteritis in humans (SAKAZAKI, 2005SAKAZAKI, R. Genus XI. Edwardsiella. In: BRENNER, D.J.; KRIEG, N.R.; STALEY, J.T. (ed.). Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. The Proteobacteria. Part B. The Gammaproteobacteria. v.2. 2.ed. New York: Springer, 2005. p.657-661.). Edwardsiella tarda is responsible for systemic diseases in freshwater and marine fish worldwide and is called “edwardsiellosis” (MOHANTY; SAHOO, 2007MOHANTY, B.R.; SAHOO, P.K. Edwardsiella in fish: a brief review. Journal of Biosciences, Bangalore, v.32, n.3, p.1331-1344, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12038-007-0143-8
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12038-007-0143-...
; XU; ZHANG, 2014XU, T.; ZHANG, X.H. Edwardsiella tarda: an intriguing problem in aquaculture. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.431, p.129-135, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2013.12.001
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
). Edwardsiellosis was identified in salmon, carp, tilapia, catfish, trout, and eels (MOHANTY; SAHOO, 2007MOHANTY, B.R.; SAHOO, P.K. Edwardsiella in fish: a brief review. Journal of Biosciences, Bangalore, v.32, n.3, p.1331-1344, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12038-007-0143-8
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12038-007-0143-...
).

JUN et al. (2004)JUN, L.J.; JEONG, J.B.; HUN, M.; CHUNG, J.; CHOI, D.; LEE, C. Detection of tetracycline-resistance determinants by multiplex polymerase chain reaction in Edwardsiella tarda isolated from fish farms in Korea. Aquaculture, Amsterdam, v.240, n.1-4, p.89-100, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2004.07.025
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.20...
investigated resistance determinants to tetracycline in E. tarda strains isolated from fish in South Korea. Each of the 20 isolates of E. tarda presented the resistance phenotype to tetracycline and contained one or two tet genes with 90% of these inserted into plasmids. These antimicrobials resistance determinants can be transmitted to human pathogenic bacteria. The strains of this study, in addition to tetracycline resistance, presented virulence. The authors warn that antimicrobial resistant bacteria in an aquaculture system can spread to fish, other animals and even humans.

Escherichia coli

E. coli is a Gram-negative bacterium commonly found in the intestinal microbiota of humans and other endothermic animals, such as cattle, swine, and poultry (KAPER et al., 2004KAPER, J.B.; NATARO, J.P.; MOBLEY, H.L.T. Pathogenic Escherichia coli. Nature Reviews Microbiology, London, v.2, n.2, p.123-140, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro818
https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro818...
). Thus, it is widely used as an indicator of faecal contamination in food and environmental samples (CARSON et al., 2001CARSON, C.A.; SHEAR, B.L.; ELLERSIECK, M.R.; ASFAW, A. Identification of fecal Escherichia coli from humans and animals by ribotyping. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Washington, v.67, n.4, p1503-1507, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.67.4.1503-1507.2001
https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.67.4.1503-15...
). Although uniform, the microbiota of fish can be influenced by physical, chemical, and biological conditions of water where they live. Thus, even though E. coli does not belong to the fish microbiota, it can be found or isolated due to the contamination of the aquatic environment in which the fish is produced (BARBOSA et al., 2014BARBOSA, M.M.C.; PINTO, F.R.; RIBEIRO, L.F.; GURIZ, C.S.L.; FERRAUDO, A.S.; MALUTA, R.P.; RIGOBELO, E.C.; ÁVILA, F.A.; AMARAL, L.A. Serology and patterns of antimicrobial susceptibility in Escherichia coli isolates from pay-to-fish ponds. Arquivos do Instituto Biológico, São Paulo, v.81, n.1, p.43-48, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1808-16572014000100008
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1808-16572014...
).

RYU et al. (2012)RYU, S.H.; PARK, S.G.; CHOI, S.M.; HWANG, Y.O.; HAM, H.J.; KIM, S.U.; LEE, Y.K.; KIM, M.S.; PARK, G.Y.; KIM, K.S.; CHAE, Y.Z. Antimicrobial resistance and resistance genes in Escherichia coli strains isolated from commercial fish and seafood. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Amsterdam, v.152, n.1-2, p.14-18, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.10.003
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.20...
, investigating the presence of E. coli resistant to antimicrobials in fish samples from South Korea, observed that approximately 40% of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline, streptomycin, cephalothin, ampicillin, tircacilin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, and nalidixic acid. In this study, the authors observed that 41% of the isolates had class 1 integrons, containing genetic cassettes that encode resistance to the class of aminoglycosides and trimethoprim. JIANG et al. (2012)JIANG, H.; TANG, D.; LIU, Y.; ZHANG, X.; ZENG, Z.; XU, L.; HAWKEY, P.M. Prevalence and characteristics of β-lactamase and plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance genes in Escherichia coli isolated from farmed fish in China. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, London, v.67, n.10, p.2350-2353, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1093/jac/dks250
https://doi.org/10.1093/jac/dks250...
isolated 112 E. coli strains from commercialized fish in Guangzhou (China), with high rates of resistance to ampicillin, tetracycline, and florfenicol. Furthermore, 19% of these isolates contained genes encoding beta-lactamases, including TEM, SHV, and CTX-M. ROCHA et al. (2014)ROCHA, R.S.; LEITE, L.O.; SOUSA, O.V.; VIEIRA, R.H.S.F. Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Escherichia coli Isolated from Fresh-Marketed Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Journal of Pathogens, Cairo, v.2014, p.1-5, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/756539
https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/756539...
isolated 44 E. coli lines of tilapia marketed in Brazil, in which 25% were resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim.

Horizontal transfer of resistance genes facilitates the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Multiresistance in strains of E. coli may be due to the presence of class 1, class 2, or class 3 integrons, or plasmids with multiple resistance genes (DENG et al., 2015DENG, Y.; BAO, X.; JI, L.; CHEN, L.; LIU, J.; MIAO, J.; CHEN, D.; BIAN, H.; LI, Y.; YU, G. Resistance integrons: class 1, 2 and 3 integrons. Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, London, v.14, n.45, p.1-11, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12941-015-0100-6
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12941-015-0100-...
). These plasmids frequently carry both antibiotic resistance and heavy metal resistance genes. The use of any of these compounds select the plasmid. This cross-selection contributed to the dissemination of multiresistant bacteria (CHOPRA; ROBERTS, 2001CHOPRA, I.; ROBERTS, M. Tetracycline antibiotics: mode of action, applications, molecular biology, and epidemiology of bacterial resistance. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, Washington, v.65, n.2, p.232-260, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1128/mmbr.65.2.232-260.2001
https://doi.org/10.1128/mmbr.65.2.232-26...
).

Weissella sp.

Bacteria of the genus Weissella are Gram-positive with cells in the form of cocci or rods, not mobile, and live in variable habitats. Usually, bacteria of this genus are related to meat and vegetable products, or fermented beverages (BJÖRKROTH et al., 2005BJÖRKROTH, J.; DICKS, L.M.T.; HOLZAPFEL, W.H. Genus III Weissella. In: BRENNER, D.J.; KRIEG, N.R.; STALEY, J.T. (Ed). Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. The Firmicutes. v.3. 2.ed. New York: Springer, 2005. p.643-654.; BRUYNE et al., 2010BRUYNE, K.; CAMU, N.; VUYST, L.; VANDAMME, P. Weissella fabaria sp. nov., from a Ghanaian cocoa fermentation. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Reading, v.60, Pt.9, p.1999-2005, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.019323-0
https://doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.019323-0...
). LIU et al. (2009)LIU, J.Y.; LI, A.H.; JI, C.; YANG, W.M. First description of a novel Weissella species as an opportunistic pathogen for rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum) in China. Veterinary Microbiology, Ames, v.136, n.3-4, p.314-320, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.11.027
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.11...
reported the first description of Weissiela sp. in fish farming.

FIGUEIREDO et al. (2012)FIGUEIREDO, H.C.P.; LEAL, C.A.G. Infecções por Streptococcus spp. em peixes. In: SILVA-SOUZA, A.T.; LIZAMA, M.A.P.; TAKEMOTO, R.M. (Orgs.). Patologia e sanidade de organismos aquáticos. 1.ed. Maringá: Massoni, 2012. p.404. investigated an outbreak of haemorrhagic septicemia in rainbow trout in Brazil, caused by Weissella sp. A total of 77 isolates showed a resistance profile to sulphonamide, erythromycin, oxytetracycline, and norfloxacin.

More intensive research on antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture is encouraged, given that the use of antimicrobials as growth promoters is still allowed in some parts of the world, such as in Brazil, where the use of florfenicol and oxytetracycline are not prohibited. The selection pressures due to the use of tetracyclines resulted in resistant bacteria. This resistance can be because of the presence of efflux proteins or ribosomal protection proteins. Both mechanisms can confer resistance to many other antimicrobials, like chloramphenicol, quinolones, erythromycin, beta-lactams, sulphonamides, and trimethoprim (CHOPRA; ROBERTS, 2001CHOPRA, I.; ROBERTS, M. Tetracycline antibiotics: mode of action, applications, molecular biology, and epidemiology of bacterial resistance. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, Washington, v.65, n.2, p.232-260, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1128/mmbr.65.2.232-260.2001
https://doi.org/10.1128/mmbr.65.2.232-26...
).

Antibiotics used in fish farming: effects on public health

Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern of public health involving pathogenic and resistant bacteria (CAPITA; ALONSO-CALLEJA, 2013CAPITA, R.; ALONSO-CALLEJA, C. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria: a challenge for the food industry. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Philadelphia, v.53, n.1, p.11-48, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2010.519837
https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2010.51...
). The risks to public health related to the use of antimicrobials in aquaculture include the spread of resistant bacteria or resistance genes and the presence of residues of these agents in fish and the environment, which can be transferred to humans in the food chain (SMITH, 2008SMITH, P. Antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture. Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), Paris, v.27, n.1, p.243-264, 2008.; OKACHA et al., 2018OKACHA, R.C.; OLATOYE, I.O.; ADEDEJI, O.B. Food safety impacts of antimicrobial use and their residues in aquaculture. Public Health Reviews, London, v.39, n.21, p.1-22, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-2
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-...
). In recent years, the concept of ‘One Health’, which prioritizes the health and welfare of humans, animals, and the environment, is gaining prominence worldwide (CAVALLI et al., 2015CAVALLI, L.S.; BRITO, K.C.T.; BRITO, B.G. One health, one aquaculture - aquaculture under one health umbrella. Journal of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, New Jersey, v.1, n.1, p.1-2, 2015. https://doi.org/10.15436/2381-0750.15.005
https://doi.org/10.15436/2381-0750.15.00...
). This concept is being employed in the world aquaculture to minimize the risks to public health, animals and the environment (GOMAZ et al., 2014GOMAZ, J.C.; FRY, J.P.; ERAZO, M.; LOVE, D.C. Public health perspectives on aquaculture. Current Environmental Health Reports, Basel, v.1, n.3, p.227-238, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-014-0018-8
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-014-0018-...
). The use of antimicrobials in aquaculture production and the zoonotic potential involving resistant pathogens and bacteria is of great importance for the triad from the One Health concept.

Many pathogens can affect humans in the consumption of raw or undercooked fish, or even by direct contact. In general, Aeromonas sp. are associated to gastroenteritis in healthy humans and can be fatal for immunocompromised individuals (TSAI et al., 2006TSAI, M.S.; KUO, C.Y.; WANG, M.C.; WU, C.U.; CHIEN, C.C.; LIU, J.W. Clinical features and risk factors for mortality in Aeromonas bacteremic adults with malignancies. Journal of Microbiology Immunology and Infection, Taipei, v.39, n.2, p.150-154, 2006.). In less frequent cases, it can cause cellulitis, septicemia, hepatobiliary disease, meningitis, endocarditis, peritonitis, otitis, and osteomyelitis (VON GRAEVENITZ, 2007VON GRAEVENITZ, A. The role of Aeromonas in diarrhea: a review. Infection, München, v.35, n.2, p.59-64, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1007/s15010-007-6243-4
https://doi.org/10.1007/s15010-007-6243-...
). In addition to consumption, another route of transmission of these strains is during contact with mucus or infected fish tissue, as well as wounds or cuts on people's hands are possible infection entries (LOWRY; SMITH, 2007LOWRY, T.; SMITH, S.A. Aquatic zoonoses associated with food, bait, ornamental, and tropical fish. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, New York, v.231, n.6, p.876-880, 2007. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.231.6.876
https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.231.6.876...
). Strains of V. vulnificus can cause necrotizing fasciitis, edema, and swelling at the infection site. Data show that about 50% of patients with septicemia caused by V. vulnificus ingestion die (OLIVER, 2005OLIVER, J.D. Wound infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus and other marine bacteria. Epidemiology and Infection, Cambridge, v.133, n.3, p.383-391, 2005. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0950268805003894
https://doi.org/10.1017/s095026880500389...
; TANG et al., 2006TANG, W.M.; FUNG, K.K.; CHENG, V.C.; LUCKE, L. Rapidly progressive necrotising fasciitis following a stonefish sting: a report of two cases. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hong Kong, v.14, n.1, p.67-70, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1177/230949900601400115
https://doi.org/10.1177/2309499006014001...
). V. parahaemolyticus can cause acute gastroenteritis, which in many cases requires hospitalization, and may also progress to septicemia (NOVOTNY et al., 2004NOVOTNY, L.; DVORSKA, L.; LORENCOVA, A.; BERAN, V.; PAVLIK, I. Fish: a potential source of bacterial pathogens for human beings. A review. Veterinarni Medicina-UZPI, Czech Republic, v.49, n.9, p.343-358, 2004. Available from: http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=CZ2005000301. Access on: Nov. 27 2018.
http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search...
). Individuals infected by E. tarda may develop necrotic skin lesions, gastroenteritis, sepsis, and meningitis (MATSUSHIMA et al., 1996MATSUSHIMA, S.; YAJIMA, S.; TAGUCHI, T.; TAKAHASHI, A.; SHISEKI, M.; TOTSUKA, K.; UCHIYAMA, T. [A fulminating case of Edwardsiella tarda septicemia with necrotizing fasciitis] [in Japanese]. Kansenshogaku Zasshi, Tokyo, v.70, n.6, p.631-636, 1996. https://doi.org/10.11150/kansenshogakuzasshi1970.70.631
https://doi.org/10.11150/kansenshogakuza...
; NOVOTNY et al., 2004NOVOTNY, L.; DVORSKA, L.; LORENCOVA, A.; BERAN, V.; PAVLIK, I. Fish: a potential source of bacterial pathogens for human beings. A review. Veterinarni Medicina-UZPI, Czech Republic, v.49, n.9, p.343-358, 2004. Available from: http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=CZ2005000301. Access on: Nov. 27 2018.
http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search...
). Most infections by S. iniae occurs on an existent wound or injury caused by fish during handling, becoming an occupational health problem as well. Strains of S. iniae can cause cellulitis, systemic arthritis, endocarditis, and meningitis (WEINSTEIN et al., 1997WEINSTEIN, M.R.; LITT, M.; KERTESZ, D.A.; WYPER, P.; ROSE, D.; COULTER, M.; MCGEER, A.; FACKLAM, R.; OSTACH, C.; WILLEY, B.M.; BORCZYK, A.; LOW, D.E. Invasive infections due to a fish pathogen, Streptococcus iniae. The New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, v.337, n.9, p.589-594, 1997. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm199708283370902
https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm199708283370...
; NOVOTNY et al., 2004NOVOTNY, L.; DVORSKA, L.; LORENCOVA, A.; BERAN, V.; PAVLIK, I. Fish: a potential source of bacterial pathogens for human beings. A review. Veterinarni Medicina-UZPI, Czech Republic, v.49, n.9, p.343-358, 2004. Available from: http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=CZ2005000301. Access on: Nov. 27 2018.
http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search...
).

The presence of these bacteria in fish highlights the zoonotic potential of these animals. Moreover, these strains can be pathogenic and exhibit resistance to antimicrobials, increasing the risks to human health. Antimicrobial resistance complicates or limits treatment options in human medicine. Thus, the use of these antimicrobial agents in production should be controlled (HEUER et al., 2009HEUER, O.E.; KRUSE, H.; GRAVE, K.; COLLINGNON, P.; KARUNASAGAR, I.; ANGULO, F.J. Human health consequences of use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Chicago, v.49, n.8, p.1248-1253, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1086/605667
https://doi.org/10.1086/605667...
; REGITANO; LEAL, 2010REGITANO, J.B.; LEAL, R.M.P. Comportamento e impacto ambiental de antibióticos usados na produção animal brasileira. Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo, Campinas, v.34, n.3, p.601-616, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0100-06832010000300002
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0100-0683201000...
).

The presence of antibiotic resistance genes in pathogenic bacteria suggests they may serve as reservoirs of these genes, which can possibly be transferred to humans. ISHIDA et al. (2010)ISHIDA, Y.; AHMED, A.M.; MAHFOUZ, N.B.; KIMURA, T.; EL-KHODERY, S.A.; MOAWAD, A.A.; SHIMAMOTO, T. Molecular analysis of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria isolated from fish farms in Egypt. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, Tokyo, v.72, n.6, p.727-734, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1292/jvms.09-0538
https://doi.org/10.1292/jvms.09-0538...
monitored the incidence of multiple antimicrobial resistance genes present in Gram-negative bacteria, such as Aeromonas sp., Vibrio sp., and E. coli, isolated from fish in Egypt. A total of 33% of the samples tested had the phenotype of multidrug resistance, and 7% were positive for class 1 integrons with 12 genes from different cassettes. Genes that determine resistance to tetracyclines, quinolones, florfenicol and genes encoding ESBL were observed in these mobile genetic elements. Besides that, resistant bacteria in animal food represent a danger to public health, because resistance can be transferred to the host bacteria (ROMERO et al., 2012ROMERO, J.; FEIJOÓ, C.G.; NAVARRETE, P. Antibiotics in aquacultureuse, abuse and alternatives. In: CARVALHO, E. (Ed.). Health and Environment in Aquaculture. Rijeka: INTECH, 2012. p. 59-198. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-environment-in-aquaculture/antibiotics-in-aquaculture-use-abuse-and-alternatives. Access on: Nov. 27 2018. https://doi.org/10.5772/28157
https://www.intechopen.com/books/health-...
), just like resistance genes linked to plasmids can be transferred to strains of human microbiota. AEDO et al. (2014)AEDO, S.; IVANOVA, L.; TOMOVA, A.; CABELLO, F.C. Plasmid-related quinolone resistance determinants in epidemic Vibrio parahaemolyticus, uropathogenic Escherichia coli, and marine bacteria from an aquaculture area in Chile. Microbial Ecology, New York, v.68, n.2, p.324-328, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-014-0409-2
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-014-0409-...
observed that the gene for determination of quinolone resistance [aac (6 ′)-Ib-cr] present in marine fish bacteria was also present in uropathogenic E. coli isolates (UPEC), suggesting that the gene can be found in bacteria from different environments.

Occupational health and antibiotic resistance

Workers on aquaculture are at risk of exposure to super-bacteria and may carry these dangerous pathogens to their family and community (IUF, 2018INTERNATIONAL UNION OF FOOD, AGRICULTURAL, HOTEL, RESTAURANT, CATERING, TOBACCO AND ALLIED WORKERS' ASSOCIATIONS (IUF). Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) - a workplace hazard. 2018. Available from: http://www.iuf.org/w/sites/default/files/AMRBrochureEnglish.pdf. Access on: Sep. 25 2018.
http://www.iuf.org/w/sites/default/files...
). In addition to the risk they pose to themselves, workers may unknowingly act as ‘carriers’ of these pathogenic microbes and pass on the risks of disease to others. The contact of workers with antimicrobial resistant pathogens in aquaculture can occur during the handling of animals with resistant strains and/or the use of needles in the vaccination. The risk increases if workers have lacerations, cuts or wounds on their skin. As pointed out by IUF (2018)INTERNATIONAL UNION OF FOOD, AGRICULTURAL, HOTEL, RESTAURANT, CATERING, TOBACCO AND ALLIED WORKERS' ASSOCIATIONS (IUF). Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) - a workplace hazard. 2018. Available from: http://www.iuf.org/w/sites/default/files/AMRBrochureEnglish.pdf. Access on: Sep. 25 2018.
http://www.iuf.org/w/sites/default/files...
, the exposure to the hazard is due to an unsafe and unsanitary working environment. For the most part, the health and safety of workers is ignored when considering AMR. Therefore, regulatory agencies must recognize antimicrobial resistance as a work-related disease as well.

Considering the hierarchy of controls, the first measure to be chosen should include complete restriction of the use of all classes of medically important antimicrobials in aquatic animals for the prevention of infectious diseases that have not yet been clinically diagnosed; or for growth promotion. Another important measure is not to use antimicrobials classified as highest priority for human medicine for the treatment of production animals. The second line of measures to be adopted includes use of quarantine and specific pathogen-free certified stocks, excluding vectors and external sources of contamination, and preventing internal cross-contamination. Therefore, if previous steps are not possible, administrative measures and use of personal protective equipment should be adopted. They include cleaning and disinfecting shoes, removing work clothes before leaving the farm, washing and drying hands, and not using electronic devices during animal activities.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

Each country has its own regulations on antimicrobials used in fish production. We highlight several bacterial species of fish farming that contain resistance genes to important antimicrobials, representing a potential risk to public health. These data on resistance to multiple drugs imply the need to monitor the production chain.

The prudent use of antibiotics in aquaculture under veterinary supervision is essential to ensure the safety of aquaculture products. Good animal husbandry practices and the use of alternatives to antibiotics, such as vaccination and probiotics, are the recommended alternatives to reduce antimicrobial use and residues in aquaculture and its consequent effects (OKACHA et al., 2018OKACHA, R.C.; OLATOYE, I.O.; ADEDEJI, O.B. Food safety impacts of antimicrobial use and their residues in aquaculture. Public Health Reviews, London, v.39, n.21, p.1-22, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-2
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0099-...
). Moreover, adopting biosafety measures that prevent the entry of pathogens into farms or incubators is also important, thus reducing the risk of disease outbreaks and the consequent use of AM (BONDAD-REANTASO et al., 2012BONDAD-REANTASO, M.G.; ARTHUR, J.R.; SUBASINGHE, R.P. Improving biosecurity through prudent and responsible use of veterinary medicines in aquatic food production. Rome: FAO, 2012. (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 547). Available from: https://search.proquest.com/openview/31a391b5665e070914ae9c1b2be5ecf3/1?pqorigsite=gscholar&cbl=237320. Access on: Oct. 03 2015.
https://search.proquest.com/openview/31a...
; HENRIKSSON et al., 2018HENRIKSSON, P.J.G.; RICO, A.; TROELL, M.; KLINGERS, D.H.; BUSCHMANN, A.H.; SAKSIDA, S.; CHADAG, M.V.; ZHANG, W. Unpacking factors influencing antimicrobial use in global aquaculture and their implication for management: a review from a systems perspective. Sustainability Science, Basel, v.13, n.4, p.1105-1120, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-017-0511-8
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-017-0511-...
).

  • FUNDING: This work did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
  • ETHICAL APPROVAL: Not applicable.
  • AVAILABILITY OF DATA AND MATERIAL: Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Not applicable.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    19 Oct 2020
  • Date of issue
    2020

History

  • Received
    13 May 2019
  • Accepted
    21 June 2020
Instituto Biológico Av. Conselheiro Rodrigues Alves, 1252 - Vila Mariana - São Paulo - SP, 04014-002 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: arquivos@biologico.sp.gov.br