DAO 58:27-34 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao058027

Comparative susceptibility of Atlantic salmon, lake trout and rainbow trout to Myxobolus cerebralis in controlled laboratory exposures

V. S. Blazer1,*, C. L. Densmore1, W. B. Schill1, D. D. Cartwright2, S. J. Page1

1National Fish Health Research Laboratory, US Geological Survey, 11700 Leetown Road, Kearneysville, West Virginia 25430, USA
2Water Resources Division, US Geological Survey, 11700 Leetown Road, Kearneysville, West Virginia 25430, USA

ABSTRACT: The susceptibility of lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar to Myxobolus cerebralis, the causative agent of whirling disease, was compared in controlled laboratory exposures. A total of 450 (225 for each dose) fry for each species were exposed to a low (200 spores per fish) or high (2000 spores per fish) dose of the infective triactinomyxon. At 22 wk post-exposure, 60 fish from each group, as well as controls for each species, were examined for clinical signs (whirling behavior, blacktail, deformed heads and skeletal deformities), microscopic lesions, and presence of spores. Rainbow trout were highly susceptible to infection, with 100% being positive for spores and with microscopic pathological changes in both exposure groups. Rainbow trout were the only species to show whirling behavior and blacktail. Atlantic salmon were less susceptible, with only 44 and 61% being positive for spores, respectively, in the low and high dose groups, while 68 and 75%, respectively, had microscopic pathology associated with cartilage damage. Rainbow trout heads contained mean spore concentrations of 2.2 (low dose) or 4.0 (high dose) × 106 spores g tissue-1. The means for positive Atlantic salmon (not including zero values) were 1.7 (low) and 7.4 (high) × 104 spores g tissue-1. Lake trout showed no clinical signs of infection, were negative for spores in both groups and showed no histopathological signs of M. cerebralis infection.

KEY WORDS: Whirling disease · Rainbow trout · Atlantic salmon · Lake trout · Myxobolus cerebralis

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