First record of epizootic ulcerative syndrome from the Upper Congo catchment: an outbreak in the Bangweulu swamps, Zambia
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We report on the first outbreak of epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) amongst wild fish populations in the Bangweulu swamps, an inland delta, in the north of Zambia during 2014. The area supports a large and diverse fish fauna related to, but distinct from, that of the Zambezi River system where EUS outbreaks have occurred since 2006. A sizeable artisanal fishery, based on extensive fish weirs, is sustained by the annual flooding of the swamps, and observations of the disease outbreak by fishermen were recorded. Signs typical of infection with Aphanomyces invadans were observed in a number of species. Clinical observations, histology and molecular diagnostic methods were used to confirm infection with A. invadans in two of the most commonly and severely affected species. Several features of the wetland may have contributed to the outbreak and the annual recurrence of the disease. Modes by which the disease may have been introduced into the swamps are discussed. The outbreak is of great significance as the Bangweulu swamps drain into the Congo River in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa's largest drainage system with an extensive and diverse fish fauna previously unaffected by EUS.