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Epidemiology of Anguillicola crassus in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) from two rivers in southern England

Epidemiology of Anguillicola crassus in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) from two rivers in southern England

Parasitology 130(Pt 6): 679-686

European eels Anguilla anguilla from the rivers Thames and Test, in the south of England, were examined between 2000 and 2003 for infection with the swim-bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus. Since its introduction to Thames eels at tidal estuarine locations circa 1987, A. crassus has become established in non-tidal freshwater stretches upriver and data from these locations are reported for the first time. The prevalence of infection at Thames estuary locations was higher during 2000-2003 than for the period 1987-1992. By 2003, similar prevalences were observed at freshwater and estuarine locations, but infection intensities were significantly higher in freshwater. Eels from the river Test appear to have been recently colonized by A. crassus (circa 2000). Parasite population establishment within these eels was uncharacteristically slow during 2000-2001, with low prevalence and intensity of infection, and few gravid females during this period. By 2003, infection levels in Test eels were similar to those in Thames eels. The expansion of the A. crassus population in Test eels has occurred in the absence of the paratenic host ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus, and at suboptimal pH for the survival and infectivity of free-living larvae. The epidemiology of A. crassus in Test eels demonstrates that transmission of A. crassus by ruffe is not required for high prevalence and intensity of infection in eels. However, the consistently low and atypical levels of infection in Test eels during 2000 and 2001 suggests that paratenic transmission by ruffe may provide a substantial contribution to the dynamics of A. crassus in eels in the early years following introduction, by facilitating the rapid increase in prevalence and intensity of A. crassus infection that typically occurs during this time.

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Accession: 004145728

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15977905

DOI: 10.1017/s0031182004007139

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