Salmon poisoning disease in dogs: 29 cases

Jane E Sykes, Stanley L Marks, S. Mapes, R. M. Schultz, Rachel E Pollard, D. Tokarz, Patricia Pesavento, L. L. Lindsay, Janet E Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Salmon poisoning disease (SPD) is a trematode-borne disease of dogs caused by Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Objectives: To determine risk factors and spatial epidemiology of SPD in dogs from northern California; to describe the clinicopathologic, microbiologic, and imaging findings of SPD in these dogs; and to evaluate treatments and outcomes for SPD. Animals: Twenty-nine dogs with SPD based on the finding of trematode ova in the feces, or organisms consistent with N. helminthoeca in specimens submitted for microscopic examination. Methods: Information regarding signalment, fish exposure, clinical signs, diagnostic evaluation, treatments, and outcomes was obtained for each dog. Archived lymph node aspirates and histopathology specimens were subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for Neorickettsia spp. Results: Labrador Retrievers and intact male dogs were overrepresented. Exposure locations were often distant from the dogs' residence. Some dogs had neurologic signs, including twitching and seizures. Dogs lacking peripheral lymphadenomegaly had abdominal lymphadenomegaly on ultrasound examination. A combination of centrifugation fecal flotation and sedimentation had greatest sensitivity for finding fluke ova. N. helminthoeca DNA was amplified by PCR from 4/10 dogs. Penicillins, cephalosporins, and chloramphenicol did not appear to be effective treatments. Mortality rate was 4/29 (14%). Conclusions and Clinical Importance: SPD should be suspected in dogs with inappetence, gastrointestinal, or neurologic signs, with or without fever or peripheral lymphadenomegaly in the appropriate geographical setting. Diagnosis is facilitated by a combination of fecal sedimentation and centrifugal flotation, abdominal ultrasonography, and PCR-based assays on lymphoid tissue. The treatment of choice is tetracycline antimicrobials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-513
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Fish
  • Nanophyetus salmincola
  • Rickettsia
  • Trematode
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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