Infection with a faecal Streptococcus species belonging to Lancefield group D has been a major cause of mortalities on certain trout farms on the escarpment of the Mpumalanga Province in the Republic of South Africa. Evidence is given of a connection between subclinical gas bubble disease and infection with this organism in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. The condition causes serious losses during the summer months when water temperatures rise above 18°C. The larger table-size fish are affected first and present with exophthalmos before developing signs of a typical bacterial septicaemia. The design of the water supply to the fish ponds on these farms allowed supersaturation of the water with atmospheric gas. Vortex formation at water extraction points appears to have been the main cause of air entrainment into the water supply leading to the ponds. By correcting the faults responsible for the development of hyperbaric gas pressure in the water, it was possible to control this disease on two badly affected farms. The overlapping similarities in the clinical signs and pathology of gas bubble disease and that seen in fish suffering from Streptococcus D infection are discussed, as well as the diagnostically significant changes in the gill tissues that are specific to subclinical exposure to gas supersaturation in the water. An explanation is given for the increased susceptibility to infection with this organism.
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