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Experimental infection and horizontal transmission of Piscirickettsia salmonis in freshwater-raised Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L.

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Experimental infections with Piscirickettsia salmonis via intraperitoneal (IP), oral (PO) and gill (GS) routes were compared, and the importance of physical contact in the horizontal transmission of this organism was investigated. Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., under-yearling parr raised in fresh water were used in this study. Samples of liver, kidney, spleen, gill and brain were collected weekly for 5 weeks after challenge, and were examined using the indirect fluorescent-antibody technique (IFAT). The pathogen was transmitted horizontally to fish with and without physical contact. However, transmission of P. salmonis occurred significantly more rapidly among fish with physical contact. Mortalities occurred in 50% of fish experimentally challenged with P. salmonis and their cohabitants. The estimates of the relative risk of dying demonstrated that fish challenged by the IP and GS routes had a significantly higher probability of dying than fish challenged by the PO route (P < 0.005). Contact cohabitants with infected fish had a higher probability of death than non-contact cohabitants (P < 0.005). The sequential studying using IFAT indicated that a haematogenous pattern of infection occurred among fish infected by oral and gill routes, or by cohabitation. This was different from the capsular (serosal) infection pattern observed in intraperitoneally inoculated fish. Piscirickettsia salmonis was observed within the cytoplasm of leucocytes and renal tubules, the latter indicating that elimination of this pathogen through the urine may be possible. Aeromonas salmonicida was also detected (by IFAT) in some of the fish exposed to P. salmonis, suggesting that P. salmonis may cause immunosuppression, and thus, increase the susceptibility of the host to other pathogens.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, 2: Aqua Health Ltd, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada 3: Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada,

Publication date: 1997-11-01

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