MSU catfish vaccine report gets national spotlight

MSU catfish vaccine report gets national spotlight

Mississippi State researchers with the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center at MSU's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville are receiving a major honor from the American Fisheries Society. (Photo By: David Ammon)

By: Vanessa Beeson

Professor David Wise and four university collaborators, Todd Byars, Terrence Greenway, Matthew Griffin and Lester Khoo, are winners of the organization's 2016 Robert L. Kendall Award for their research report featured in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health. Wise, Greenway and Byars work for the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and Griffin and Khoo work for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The MSU report details development of a vaccine to protect fish against enteric septicemia of catfish, a bacterial disease caused by Edwardsiella ictaluri. This is the most commonly reported disease affecting catfish and can cause catastrophic losses if left untreated.

With headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, the American Fisheries Society is the world's oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science and conserving fisheries resources. For more, see

In August, Wise will travel to Kansas City, Missouri, to formally accept the award at the society's 146th annual meeting.

Final trials of the MSU-developed oral vaccine currently are taking place, with hopes for commercial release in the near future. Last year's trials involved some 90 million catfish, and researchers anticipate doubling that number this year.

"Better disease management increases production efficiency," Wise said. "That gives Mississippi producers a competitive advantage."

"We want to deliver this technology right into the hands of the producers," he said, noting that "the work we are doing now will show us the resources we need to make this a viable commercial entity."

Wise also said the "vaccination platform has tremendous potential for increasing the profitability of catfish farming."

Professor Jeff Johnson heads MSU's Delta Research and Extension Center in Washington County where MAFES's Cochran Center is a major unit.

Johnson said the Kendall Award recognizes "the world-class research the fish health program conducts," adding that "it also highlights our aquaculture program as a whole."

Johnson said Wise's catfish disease-management research is paramount to an industry focused on improving production processes.

"The catfish industry has consolidated; acreage has decreased while technology use has increased," Johnson observed. "As production becomes increasingly concentrated and intensified, disease management is critical. Dr. Wise's disease management research directly contributes to the industry's future viability."

For more information on MSU catfish research, visit

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