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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 54:49-54 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao054049

Distribution, prevalence and severity of Parvicapsula minibicornis infections among anadromous salmonids in the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada

Simon R. M. Jones1,*, Gina Prosperi-Porta1, Sheila C. Dawe1, David P. Barnes2

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 6N7, Canada
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Cultus Lake Laboratory, Cultus Lake, British Columbia V2R 5B6, Canada

ABSTRACT: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and microscopic examination of stained kidney sections were used to diagnose infections with the myxozoan parasite Parvicapsula minibicornis in maturing Fraser River salmon. In 2 series of collections, the parasite was detected in 109 of 406 migrating sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka belonging to Early Stuart, Early Summer and Summer run-timing groups, mainly upper Fraser River stocks. However, the parasite was detected neither in fish at sea nor once they had migrated several 100 km upstream. Prevalence then increased to 95% or greater at the spawning grounds. Histological examination of kidney was less sensitive than PCR in detecting the parasite in salmon collected from the earliest sites in both collections found positive by PCR. Severity of infection was greatest at the spawning grounds. Development of infection in sockeye, measured by prevalence, severity or by the rate of false-negative histological diagnoses, appeared to be a useful estimate of in-river residence time. Prevalence and severity of infections in sequential samples of Harrison River and Weaver Creek sockeye stocks collected from the Harrison River indicated that more time had elapsed since parasite transmission than would be predicted based on migration distance alone. Pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, coho salmon O. kisutch and chinook salmon O. tshawytscha were found to be infected with the parasite. Development of P. minibicornis in pink salmon was most similar to that in sockeye. Pink and coho salmon may be at risk to the pathological consequences of P. minibicornis infection.

KEY WORDS: Parvicapsula minibicornis · Oncorhynchus nerka · Fraser River · Histology · Polymerase chain reaction

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