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J Parasitol. 2005 Oct;91(5):1230-2.

Prevalence and influence of Loma branchialis (Microspora) on growth and mortality in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in coastal Newfoundland.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.


A study was conducted to determine the prevalence, geographical distribution, and effects of a microsporan parasite, Loma branchialis, in Atlantic cod in coastal Newfoundland. The parasite was identified microscopically as opaque, ovoid xenomas, primarily in the gills, heart, and spleen. Although widely distributed in young fish inhabiting 7 coastal localities, prevalence was 1-7% in general, <0.01% in older and large fish, but 78% in market-size cod from a commercial farm. Some of the latter fish were emaciated, and approximately 2 mo after the parasite was detected, 63% succumbed with a massive infection. Condition factor and blood values were significantly lower than those in reference fish. An experimental study conducted over 2 yr revealed that mass gained and condition factor were significantly lower in infected cod than in controls at the termination of the study. Feed consumption, mass gained, feed conversion efficiency, and condition factor also were significantly lower in another group of infected cod of marketable size studied over 12 wk. Xenomas also were observed in the heart and gills of year class II cod reared in a hatchery. Loma branchialis is considered to be a potential pathogen in both hatchery-reared and net pen-cultured cod in Newfoundland.

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