Vibrio cholerae O1 Inhabit Intestines and Spleens of Fish in Aquaculture Ponds

Tamir Ofek, Beny Trabelcy, Ido Izhaki, Malka Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of cholera, an acute diarrheal disease that spreads locally and globally in epidemics and pandemics. Although it was discovered that fish harbor V. cholerae strains in their intestines, most investigations revealed non-toxic V. cholerae serogroups in fish. Due to the rarity of toxigenic V. cholerae serogroups, it is difficult to cultivate these strains from environmental samples. Hence, here we aimed to uncover evidence of the occurrence of toxigenic V. cholerae in the intestines and spleens of various fish species. By using molecular detection tools, we show that V. cholerae O1 and strains positive for the cholera toxin inhabit both healthy and diseased fish intestines and spleens, suggesting that fish may serve as intermediate vectors of toxigenic V. cholerae. No significant differences were found between the abundance of toxigenic V. cholerae (either O1 or cholera toxin positive strains) in the healthy and the diseased fish intestines or spleens. In conclusion, a variety of fish species may serve as potential vectors and reservoirs of toxigenic V. cholerae as they form a link between the other reservoirs of V. cholerae (chironomids, copepods, and waterbirds). Similarly, they may aid in the spread of this bacterium between water bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 27 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cholera toxin
  • Fish
  • Intestine
  • O1
  • Reservoir
  • Spleen
  • Tilapia
  • Vibrio cholerae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Soil Science
  • Ecology


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