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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 144:209-220 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03593

Muscular microsporidian infection in Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus from two lakes in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada

Marion Jalenques1, Justin Sanders2, Lilian Tran3, Laurie Beaupré4, Michael Kent2, Stéphane Lair1,*

1Centre québécois sur la santé des animaux sauvages / Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, Faculté de médecine vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St. Hyacinthe, Quebec J2S 2M2, Canada
2Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
3Makivik Corporation, Kuujjuaq, Quebec J0M 1C0, Canada
4Direction de la gestion de la faune du Nord-du-Québec Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, Chibougamau, Quebec G8P 2Z3, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus is an important cultural and subsistence resource for Inuit communities. Muscular infections by microsporidia were diagnosed for the first time in Arctic char originating from 2 different lakes in Nunavik (Quebec, Canada). The consumption of these infected fish was associated with digestive tract disorders in people. To better characterize microsporidiosis in these char populations, a cross-sectional study was conducted on 91 fish. The microsporidium was classified as a member of the Microsporidium collective genus by morphological evaluation and phylogenetic analysis using small subunit ribosomal DNA sequence data. The presence and severity of infection were determined histologically. Microsporidian infection occurred in 61% of the fish (56/91) and was significantly associated with an increase in their age, length and weight. The severity of infection (percentage of muscle area affected by microsporidia) was mild in most cases (<1% of the total muscle area). Based on multiple linear regression modeling, the severity of infection was significantly greater in females and negatively correlated with the body condition. Despite a high prevalence, the low pathogenicity of the infection suggests that microsporidiosis has little impact on these char populations. Moreover, since digestive-tract disorders following ingestion of fish infected by microsporidia have never been reported in humans, it seems unlikely that it was responsible for the reported clinical signs. Anisakid larvae are occasionally observed in these char populations. Digestive-tract infection associated with ingestion of these larvae should thus be considered as a potential differential diagnosis in these Inuit communities.


KEY WORDS: Microsporidia · Salvelinus alpinus · Arctic char · Myositis · Nunavik · Anisakis · Zoonosis


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Cite this article as: Jalenques M, Sanders J, Tran L, Beaupré L, Kent M, Lair S (2021) Muscular microsporidian infection in Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus from two lakes in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. Dis Aquat Org 144:209-220. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03593

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