DAO 37:165-172 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/dao037165

Routes of entry of Piscirickettsia salmonis in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss

P. A. Smith*, P. Pizarro, P. Ojeda, J. Contreras, S. Oyanedel, J. Larenas

Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Chile, Casilla 2 Correo 15, Santiago, Chile

ABSTRACT: Since 1989, Piscirickettsia salmonis, the causal agent of piscirickettsiosis, has killed millions of farmed salmonids each year in southern Chile. The portal of entry for the pathogen was investigated by use of selected experimental infections in juvenile rainbow trout (12 g). The methods used were intraperitoneal injection, subcutaneous injection, patch contact on skin, patch contact on gills, intestinal intubation and gastric intubation. Cumulative mortalities at Day 33 post-inoculation were 98, 100, 52, 24, 24, and 2%, respectively. It was shown that intact skin and gills could be penetrated by P. salmonis. The high mortality obtained in subcutaneously injected fish indicated that skin injuries could facilitate the invasion of this pathogen. Results suggested that the main entry sites are through the skin and gills and that the oral route may not be the normal method by which P. salmonis initiates infection of salmonids.

KEY WORDS: Piscirickettsia salmonis · Pathogenesis · Fish disease · Salmonid

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