Further development of bithionol therapy as a treatment for amoebic gill disease in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L.
This study examined the efficacy of bithionol as a prophylactic or therapeutic oral treatment for Atlantic salmon (AS), Salmo salar, affected by amoebic gill disease (AGD). Furthermore, it explored the interaction of bithionol oral therapy with the current standard treatment (a freshwater bath for at least 3 h). The efficacy of three medicated feeds was determined in the trial by feeding AGD-affected AS at 1% body weight (BW) day−1 either oil coated commercial feed (control) or prophylactic and therapeutic bithionol at 25 mg kg−1 feed. Feeding commenced 2 weeks prior to exposure to Neoparamoeba spp. at 300 cells L−1 and continued for 49 days post-exposure (PE). Bithionol when fed as a 2-week prophylactic or therapeutic treatment at 25 mg kg−1 feed delayed the onset of AGD pathology and reduced the percentage of gill filaments with lesions. Administration of a 3-h freshwater bath at 28 days PE significantly reduced amoeba numbers to a similar level across all treatments; in contrast, gross gill score and percent lesioned filaments were reduced to different extents, the control having a significantly higher score than both bithionol treatments. Following the freshwater bath, clinical signs of AGD increased at a similar level across all treatments, albeit controls were significantly higher than the bithionol treatments immediately following freshwater treatment. This study demonstrated that bithionol at 25 mg kg−1 feed, when fed as a 2-week prophylactic or a therapeutic treatment, delayed and reduced the intensity of AGD pathology and warrants further investigation as a treatment for AGD-affected AS.