TitleSurvey of parasites in threatened stocks of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in Oregon by examination of wet tissues and histology.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsFerguson, JA, St-Hilaire, S, Peterson, TS, Rodnick, KJ, Kent, ML
JournalThe Journal of parasitology
Date Published2011 Dec

We are conducting studies on the impacts of parasites on Oregon coastal coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kistuch). An essential first step is documenting the geographic distribution of infections, which may be accomplished by using different methods for parasite detection. Thus, the objectives of the current study were to (1) identify parasite species infecting these stocks of coho salmon and document their prevalence, density, and geographic distribution; (2) assess the pathology of these infections; and (3) for the first time, determine the sensitivity and specificity of histology for detecting parasites compared with examining wet preparations for muscle and gill infections. We examined 576 fry, parr, and smolt coho salmon in total by histology. The muscle and gills of 219 of these fish also were examined by wet preparation. Fish were collected from 10 different locations in 2006-2007. We identified 21 different species of parasites in these fish. Some parasites, such as Nanophyetus salmincola and Myxobolus insidiosus, were common across all fish life stages from most basins. Other parasites, such as Apophallus sp., were more common in underyearling fish than smolts and had a more restricted geographic distribution. Additional parasites commonly observed were as follows: Sanguinicola sp., Trichodina truttae , Epistylis sp., Capriniana piscium, and unidentified metacercariae in gills; Myxobolus sp. in brain; Myxidium salvelini and Chloromyxum majori in kidney; Pseudocapillaria salvelini and adult digenean spp. in the intestine. Only a few parasites, such as the unidentified gill metacercariae, elicted overt pathologic changes. Histology had generally poor sensitivity for detecting parasites; however, it had relatively good specificity. We recommend using both methods for studies or monitoring programs requiring a comprehensive assessment of parasite identification, enumeration, and parasite-related pathology.