A survey of fish affected with epizootic ulcerative syndrome taken from outbreaks in countries throughout South and South-East Asia showed that a morphologically typical fungus was consistently present within lesions. Although the majority of the fungal mycelium was dead in most lesions it proved possible to isolate a very delicate and culturally demanding Aphanomyces from such lesions in a few cases. It also proved relatively easy to isolate other members of the Saprolegniaceae including Aphanomyces from the surface of lesions, but these were considered saprophytes derived from background spore burdens in the water. Sporangium morphology of the putatively pathogenic isolates of Aphanomyces was different from that of saprophytic Aphanomyces strains and they also had a lower thermal tolerance. When a mycelium from these strains was placed below the dermis of healthy fish, it caused an inflammatory response and proceeded to migrate down into the tissues of the fish, inducing severe myonecrosis with chronic epithelial reaction. The saprophytic isolates induced a local host response followed by healing of the induced lesion, and destruction or expulsion of the mycelium. It is considered that the specific slow-growing, thermo-labile Aphanomyces is the pathogenic fungus which causes so much tissue damage in this disease, although it may not be a primary pathogen in its own right.
Chinabut, S.; Roberts, R.J.; Willoughby, L.G. Mycotic aspects of epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) of Asian fishes. Journal of Fish Diseases (1993) 16 (3) 169-183. [DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2761.1993.tb01248.x]