Susceptibility of selected inland salmonids to experimentally induced infections with myxobolus cerebralis, the causative agent of whirling disease

Ronald Hedrick, Terry S. McDowell, Kaveramma Mukkatira, Marios P. Georgiadis, Elizabeth Macconnell

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Laboratory exposures to the infectious stages (triactinomyxons) of Myxobolus cerebralis demonstrated a range of susceptibility to whirling disease among four species of inland salmonids. Replicate groups of each species were exposed to two concentrations of triactinomyxons, a low dose (100–200 per fish) and a high dose (1,000–2,000 per fish). Exposed fish were evaluated for clinical signs, for severity of microscopic lesions at 35 d, 2 and 5 months, and for spore concentrations in the head cartilage at 5 months. A standard strain of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss matched for age served as a susceptible species control. Rainbow trout, westslope cutthroat trout O. clarki lewisi, Yellowstone cutthroat trout O. clarki bouvieri, and bull trout Salvelinus confluentus were susceptible to M. cerebralis infections. Clinical signs, including radical swimming (“whirling”) and black tails, were observed at 7 weeks postexposure among rainbow and cutthroat trout challenged at 3 weeks of age. Clinical signs were rare among bull trout exposed at an age of 4 weeks and absent among rainbow and cutthroat trout exposed at 3 months posthatch. Most rainbow, cutthroat, and bull trout were found to be infected when examined at 5 months postexposure. The most severe microscopic lesions among infected fish at 5 months postexposure were found among rainbow trout. Cutthroat trout had less severe lesions, bull trout had mild infections, and no evidence of infection was found among Arctic grayling Thymallus arcticus. Mean spore concentrations among infected fish correlated with the severity of microscopic lesion scores. Rainbow trout had mean concentrations of spores in head cartilage reaching 106, whereas more resistant species such as bull trout had 104 spores; no spores were found among Arctic grayling at 5 months postexposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-339
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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