Fish, exotic, zoo, pocket pet, reptile, amphibian testing at the AHL

The various AHL pathologists specialize in the gross and histopathology of non-domestic species, including mammals, pocket pets, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. These animals are often affected by unique and species-specific diseases, necessitating a focused laboratory service. The AHL has progressively established this specialized expertise and focus and we have tested a wide range of samples covering disease diagnosis, surveillance and health checks. Public display animals and pets are generally intimately associated with their caregivers, owners, and the general public.  These animals also represent an important interface between animal and public health, and through laboratory testing and pathology screening act as a particularly critical indicator for potential zoonotic disease transmission.

The AHL inaugurated a fish testing section in 2014. Since its inception, the section has provided diagnostic services in the fish health and aquaculture industries examining a diverse array of samples encompassing disease diagnosis, health evaluations, fish movement certification, and fish export certification. Dr. Heindrich Snyman, the AHL pathologist and fish case coordinator, brings a wealth of experience in comparative pathology, having worked with various exotic, zoo, reptile, amphibian, fish, and invertebrate species. Dr. Hugh Cai, the AHL Veterinary Microbiologist, oversees activities such as fish biopsy wet mount examination, necropsy, fish bacterial culture, and fish viral and bacterial molecular biology testing. In addition to the two veterinarians, The AHL fish testing section is staffed with experts holding significant experience in fish testing, including individuals with PhD in fish health, and MSc or BSc in Molecular Biology and Microbiology.

The AHL fish lab's testing portfolio includes:

  • Postmortem examinations and histopathology
  • Wet mount microscopy examinations of gill biopsies and skin scrapings
  • Bacterial culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing
  • Biochemical testing for bacterial species identification
  • MALDI-TOF MS for bacterial identification
  • DNA sequencing: 16S rRNA gene sequencing, COX1 gene sequencing for bacterial identification
  • Whole genome sequencing for viral and bacterial identification and typing (in collaboration with AHL bacteriology lab)
  • PCR for bacterial pathogen detection
  • PCR for fish viral pathogen detection

The AHL fish lab’s accreditation includes:

• ISO/IEC 17025 accredited PCR tests: *

o Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV)

o Koi herpesvirus (KHV)

o Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV)

o Whole genome sequencing (AHL bacteriology lab)

• Accredited by SCC under AHL flexible scope accreditation:*

o Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) PCR

o Myxobolus cerebralis (whirling disease pathogen) PCR

o Aeromonas salmonicida subspecies salmonicida PCR

o Flavobacterium psychrophilum PCR

o Lactococcus garvieae PCR

o Renibacterium salmoninarum PCR

• American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) accreditation: full accreditation.

*Refer to the attached certificates and SCC scope of accreditation and AHL’s list of methods falling under flexible scope for more details

AHL exotic, zoo, pocket pet, reptile, amphibian molecular biology testing includes:

  • Pseudogymnoascus destructans PCR for bat white nose syndrome.
  • Echinococcus multilocularis, E. granulosus, and Taenia spp. - PCR panel.
  • Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum - PCR for ticks.
  • Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola - PCR for captive and wild snakes.
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi in laboratory mice, rabbits, monkeys, dogs, rats, birds, guinea pigs – PCR.
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans - PCR for amphibians including salamanders and caecilians.
  • Serpentovirus (reptile nidovirus) PCR

For other virology and bacteriology testing, please contact ahlinfo@uoguelph.ca .