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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Fatal Diplostomum phoxini infection in captive Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica chicks following ingestion of infected European minnows Phoxinus phoxinus

    Stefan Hoby, Inês Berenguer Veiga, Philipp Olias, Leonore Küchler, Katja Schönbächler, Hansueli Blatter, Heike Schmidt-Posthaus*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Conservation of endangered animal species is a major task of zoos. Husbandry and breeding of Atlantic puffins Fratercula arctica in captivity is challenging. In 2019, the entire chick population (n = 4 chicks) in Berne Animal Park’s Atlantic puffin colony died within 7 d. Due to supply constraints, the chicks had been fed with wild-caught European minnows Phoxinus phoxinus. At necropsy, the main pathological finding in all deceased puffin chicks was a multifocal, moderate to severe subacute heterophilic and granulomatous enteritis with intralesional adult trematodes and eggs. Metacercariae surrounded by few necrotic cells and scattered macrophages were found in the brain and spinal cord of the food fish. Additional microbiological analyses of both the puffin chicks and fish were unremarkable. Diplostomum phoxini DNA could be identified in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue from the small intestine of all puffin chicks and European minnows following PCR and sequencing of the 18S ribosomal RNA gene and the ITS1 region. This report illustrates the importance of intensive health checks of food fish for animal species kept in captivity.