Incidence of Vibrio species associated with blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) collected from Galveston Bay, Texas
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Bacteria were readily isolated from the hemolymph of most (88%) blue crabs collected from Galveston Bay, Texas. The hemolymph of most crabs contained moderate (> 103 bacteria/ml) to heavy (> 105 bacteria/ml) infections. Large variances were observed in the bacterial number associated with individual crabs, but no significant difference was observed between the mean bacterial levels in the hemolymph of crabs collected during different seasons of the sampling year. Vibrio spp. Were the predominant bacterial types in the hemolymph of infected crabs and increased in number significantly during the summer season. Warmer water temperatures were thought to be responsible for this increase. Bacterial numbers and the percentage of Vibrio spp. were highest in the interior of the crab bodies, especially in the digestive tract. The exterior of the crabs did not appear to be the source of the hemolymph's bacterial flora. Bacteria taxonomically identical to V. cholerae, V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus were routinely isolated from the crab hemolymph and external carapace. V. parahaemolyticus was the most prevalent of the pathogenic Vibrio spp. and was isolated from 23% of the hemolymph samples. V. vulnificus (7%) and V. cholerae (2%) occurred less commonly in the hemolymph samples. The incidences of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus were related and increased in the summer months. Both organisms were frequently isolated from the same crab.