Dynamics of Diplostomum spathaceum infection in snail hosts at a fish farm
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- Karvonen, A., Savolainen, M., Seppälä, O. et al. Parasitol Res (2006) 99: 341. doi:10.1007/s00436-006-0137-8
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Ecologically sustainable disease prevention in intensive monocultures, such as fish farming, is based on the knowledge of the ecology of parasites and the identification of the key proportion of host populations for parasite life cycles. In this paper, we examined the life cycle dynamics of the pathogenic trematode Diplostomum spathaceum at a fish farm during a period of 1 year, focusing especially on the pattern of infection in the snail host (Lymnaea stagnalis) population, which is the key phase in the parasite life cycle regarding preventative actions. We found that (1) the infection varied seasonally in snails, being highest in late August; (2) the prevalence of infection and the proportion of individuals releasing cercariae were strongly dependent on snail size; (3) the parasite over-wintered in snails as dormant sporocysts and 4) the mortality of infected snails was not likely to differ from uninfected individuals during winter. Furthermore, the seasonality and development of the infection in the snails corresponded to the pattern of infection observed in the tracer rainbow trout caged in the farm area. This pattern of infection also indicated strong spatiality of the infection, probably because of differences in the size of the snail population between the ponds rather than differences in the prevalence of infection. Overall, present results indicate a possibility for late-summer outbreaks of D. spathaceum, but also that snail prevention at farms could be conducted more efficiently by considering both size-dependent infection and the timing of cercarial release.