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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 61:59-66 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao061059

Experimental infections of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar with Spironucleus barkhanus

Fu Ci Guo, Patrick T. K. Woo*

Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. (Salmonidae) were experimentally infected with Spironucleus barkhanus (Diplomonadida: Hexamitidae). Parasites were found in the blood 1 to 8 wk after infection, after which they disappeared from the blood and were found mainly in the internal organs (e.g. spleen and liver), eye socket or muscles. Mortality (38 out of 40 infected fish) occurred when fish had lesions in internal organs and/or on the body surface. Uninfected fish cohabiting with infected fish became infected after 4 wk, indicating direct transmission. There was no difference in susceptibility to spironucleosis between 3 different families of Atlantic salmon. All families developed the disease with a similar pattern of parasitaemia in the blood, similar clinical signs and gross pathology, and with very high mortality (29 out of 30). Clinical signs of systemic spironucleosis may include anemia, skin blisters, muscle ulcerations or unilateral exophthalmia. Gross pathologies include hemorrhaging of internal organs, splenomegaly or deformed (globulated) spleen, or granulomatous lesions in the spleen and liver.

KEY WORDS: Spironucleus barkhanus · Systemic spironucleosis · Salmo salar · Transmission · Clinical signs · Mortality

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