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Shamu23

Can People Transmit Diseases To Fish?

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I was just wondering if there are any diseases that we can transmit to fish and the other way around, it would be interesting to know in advance lol.

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i know you can get tb from fish...just make sure you don't have any open wounds when your cleaning the tank...

Edited by Fishcrazy

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yeah I knew that too, but thats the only thing I knew about, I wonder if we can transmit anything to them :unsure:

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I have wondered the same thing myself.. I always wash my hands before putting them in the tank or handling gel food. I use natural soap and rinse thoroughly.

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I always wash my hands too, but not with soap before cleaning fishtanks cause Im always scared that it wont all come off and that i'll kill my fishies that way!

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It is called "zoonotic" disease - as a disease that can cross the species barrier. TB is a very worrisome one. There are others - from parasites on out that have been found to travel from fish to human..... but from human to fish, there do not seem to be very many studies.

I do know that TB can cross the other way - (human to fish), as well as a few of the lesser known bacteria (technically, as I understand it - almost anything that will infect a fish to human can infect a human to fish), but these are rare and not easily transmitted.

I am also aware that various drug resistant staph and strep bacteria - specifically some of the strains that are causing all the MRSA hoopla - are said to be able to be cross contaminated to many other creatures - from cats/dogs/horses/rodents/birds, etc. I do not have fish as a listed "endangered" contact, but I would suppose that would also be true.

Good question, though. It is a shame that studies seem to be so human-centered. I would like to know.

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thats interesting, so how are they transmitted?

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It's an excellent question and I'll try and answer this one. It's a subject of great interest and importance to everyone involved in animal care, all pet owners- immunolgy is also a research obsession of mine right now. My older brother is an internal disease specialist in London (that's diagnostic GP to Brits) and my younger brother works for the Ministry of fisheries -UK and Boston based.

I have put this question to both of them and will try to fuse their answers with my own research best I can.

First of all the basic answer for those who don't want to read the whole loonywhack or have little time is that yes there are a very few possibilities of transmission from humans to fish. But with regular hand washing before and after we are extremely unlikely to do so. Vice versa fish to human is also possible (zoonotic infection is where the fishes disease is transferred to humans). Presently the only 2 disease transmissable from fish to human are both bacterial and are known to us as TB and Vibriosis. Both, are to date treatable.

Next its important to understand the four main threat groups we are dealing with. Each group presents a different potential threat for human>fish transmission reasons which I'll try to explain.

1. PARASITES (dangers for humans to pass to fish)

These have the least threatening transmission possibilities.

Basically this is because parasites need a host (hence the name) and 99% of the time parasites are host specificmeaning that they are very picky about who they live with! this is a survival instinct because almost always without the appropriate host for their needs (fish slime coat, gills etc) they will die off. Because many parasites are also organ specific (notice how all the parasites have afavorite resting place internally or externally on the fish) we can be assured that since people have a rather distant, the most distant in fact, body make up/DNA and organ structure from a fish it is unlikely that we can transmit a parasite to our fish that will thrive on the fish.

Howeverit is entirely possible and does happen rather often, that a parasite living on an animal closer in the species chain can attach to a fish and cause damage. Animals including our pet dogs and cats can harbor parsites that are unseen and cause them no damage but can be dangerous to fish. In this case the animal is called a parasite transport host. Avoid having your cat put its paws in the fish water!! Many such transferred parasites may still not have found their perfect host in a fish- and so one of 2 things will happen.

Either, the parsite will quickly die off OR the parasite will attach to the fish (or be freeliving depending on parasite type) and in a desparate survival bid will mutate to try and adapt to the new host. In this case the fish will display very strange symptoms (not found in many reference aids).

2. VIRUSES

These are the smallest germs. Almost all viruses that humans have are not equipped with the same cell structure to infect fish. Viruses are strongly host specific. The cat HIV virus (FIV) is not transmissable to humans for example and so on down the species chain. Very occasionally however viruses will mutate and flip species preference as inSARS and Ebola (I think) and bird flu. Strong immunity is more important to fight viruses than any other germ because there are no cures for viruses. All we hav eare meds to relieve symptoms and alleviate discomfort and we rely totally on the fishes original immune strength (so important to look after).

The only viruses that can cross to fish from humans are the cold/flu viruses that are easily killed by washing hands if you have acold before putting hands in the water. Just to be safe never sneeze in a tank. Chances are the human virus would not affect the fish BUT mutations can happen as explained in 1. and the cold viruses (and the measles virus) are relatively similar in cell structure to the virus that causes lymphosystisis and carp pox in fish.

3.BACTERIA

Most bacteria are actually not pathogenic. One of the main probs with bacteria is we kill the good ones with the bad. In doing so antibiotics which cannot differentiate have caused the bad ones to become more virulent. The good bacteria are our immune allies.

Human bacteria are thought not to pose a athreat to fish. (Again washing hands before and after is advised and never swallow tank water.)

4. FUNGI

Fungi are the plant type germs - mould and yeast are examples. Fungi that affect fish are water dependent. So fungi that affect people will not ususally affect fish. However cotton wool disease bears a very close resemblence to athletes foot so there is still a potential mutation possibility. I don't think we are sticking athlet foot feet in our tanks though and again a simple hand wash is very effective.

I think that covers the basics. I hope it answers some fears. One bonus peice of trivia: if you cannot wash your hands did you know that clapping your hands very loudly for 30 seconds kills most germs?

Here's to safe and healthy tank life :D

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I think that's a very pinnable post. The question will surely come up again. :goodpost Great info!

I would like to hear more about the transmission of TB. I have read somewhere that it is only a remote possibility. It would be comforting to know for sure.

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thats really cool Imogen. So if we wash our hands before dealing with we should be ok right? Does it have to be with soap? Im always scared of using soap before cleaning fishtanks. I agree with Chickey, we should get this pinned, great job Imogen!

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Wow, that was incredibly informative! I had no idea that TB could be transmitted from fish. I also would like to know how this is transmitted and how likely it would be to happen.

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Imo, that was a really cool post! thanks for sharing your info, Like Rach said, this post should be pinned! :D

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Thankyou so much all. It took me almost 2 hours to get that organised checking all the facts and then writing up :ignore and then I wonder why my hubb is complaining about my housekeeping skills recently :rolleyes: Mwahhaha :unsure:

Anyway fish TB is a disease that affects people with low immunity.Old people and people with impaired immunity to start will be at risk. I dont think that fits the profile for the average fish owner but its always wise to be careful. Also it can be on board and dormant for some years so if down the road your immunity does become severely impaired it might be a worry. Both TB and vibriosis (a kind of rather severe food poisoning type disease) enter through breaks in the skin (or mouth). The pathogens cannot enter through good strong unbroken skin because we are protected by the top level of skin, the protective epidermis. Very conveniently, the epidermis is thickest on the hands so hand immersion is probably going to be okay. If you have cuts or excema you should consider using long gloves and/or make sure you wash well before and after tank care.

Hand washing with soap is fine. Just be sure to rinse off the soap (check>no smell).

TB can be present in overcrowded tanks. When it's transmitteds to humans it is not the lung TB a person gets it is an itchy rash of bumps. Here's a link for the details for those wanting more.

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Hey Trinks! :hi

What a fabulous post! There is so much information there, I read it again and again and still see something new.

Parasites transmitted from other pets.. Who would have thought? I'm glad I keep my daughters kitten away when I'm doing the fish tank!

I worry about soap on my hands when I'm working with the tank. My daughter teases me that I have an OCD problem with keeping my hands clean. I'm not as bad as I used to be!! But they do get a lot of soap on them during the day. I make sure to rinse an extra long time when I feed the fish, or clean the tank.

What type of gloves can you use in the tank? I have plastic gloves that I use when I test the water. (Okay - so I freaked out reading all the warnings in the drop test kit... go ahead and laugh! :D lol) but those gloves have a powdery substance on/in them. I wouldn't want to put them in the tank.

Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with us!! You're incredible!

Now if you could teach the fish to do your housework...... ;)

:heart Debs

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Thanks!! That answers my question about TB. I think it is even more pinnable now! Oodles of great information!

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oh cool, ya know, I get a rash every time I stick my hands in any kind of water :blink: not just fish water. And I always have some kind of cut on my hands, I havent gotten sick yet.....or at least not that I know of :unsure:

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It's advisable not to put your hands and arms into any environment that has poop in it if you have open cuts. If the cuts have scabbed over it should be fine. Germs are transmitted through bodily fluids. A closed scab is not open to bodily fluids usually :)

Always wash well after and if you do have open cuts and sores, wear the long aquarium gloves you can get at special stores.

A simple, familiar looking rash is not a Tb rash Shamu. I get them sometimes cleaning my tanks too.

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maybe I should be more careful, I started bleeding once while cleaning Taco's tank and started freaking out, not cause I thought I might get sick, I thought it migth harm Taco lol, but it didnt, had to do the rest with one hand lol

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Septicemia a blood disorder is transmittable or could occur due to poor water quality.

meningococci and Waterhouse-Frederchsen syndrome are a few examples of other blood disorders that fall under Septicemia. Septicemia can be deadly fast.

James

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i like the trivia post of :clapping: LOL.. your posts usual, highly informative and much apprecaited :goodpost .. thanks trinket, i have learned heaps from you.

helen

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i know you can get tb from fish...just make sure you don't have any open wounds when your cleaning the tank...

:oops:

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LOL

the granuloma page freaked me out! I have two open cuts on my fingers and have been elbow deep in tank water!

I know have a collection of red lumps on my inner elbow XD hope it goes away!

Excellent post though!

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I am an environmental magor and my class had a discussion about how the coral reefs in the carribean where dying at an alarming rate and what did they test positive for? Herpes!! Not sure if this is something only coral can catch but throwing it out there!!

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Yes I believe so. Interesting. KHV is the fish version of herpes. It was apparantly discovered as recently as 1996.

It is however related to the carp pox virus which has been around for much longer and is especially common in pond fish. And it is not a zoonotic version of herpes, meaning the RNA variant responsible for causing KHV disease in fish will not cause herpes disease in humans.

How it started in the fish is unknown though.

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