Non-lethal detection of Eubothrium crassum (Cestoda) in farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, using anal swabs and real-time PCR

J Fish Dis. 2024 May;47(5):e13918. doi: 10.1111/jfd.13918. Epub 2024 Jan 18.


Detection of intestinal parasites in fish typically requires autopsy, resulting in the sacrifice of the fish. Here, we describe a non-lethal method for detecting the tapeworm Eubothrium crassum in fish using anal swabs and real-time PCR detection. Two assays were developed to detect cytochrome oxidase I (COI) mitochondrial DNA and 18S ribosomal DNA sequences of E. crassum, respectively. The assays were tested on swab samples from confirmed pathogen free Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) and on samples from farmed Atlantic salmon, where the presence and intensity of parasites had been established through autopsy. The COI assay was shown to be specific to E. crassum, while the 18S assay also amplified the closely related E. salvelini, a species infecting Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.) in freshwater. The COI assay detected E. crassum in all field samples regardless of parasite load while the 18S assay failed to detect the parasite in two samples. The results thus demonstrates that this non-lethal approach can effectively detect E. crassum and can be a valuable tool in assessing the prevalence of infection in farmed salmon, aiding in treatment decisions and evaluating treatment effectiveness.

Keywords: aquaculture; fish parasite; non‐invasive detection; non‐lethal detection; real‐time PCR; tapeworm.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cestoda* / genetics
  • Cestode Infections* / diagnosis
  • Cestode Infections* / parasitology
  • Cestode Infections* / veterinary
  • Fish Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Fish Diseases* / parasitology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Salmo salar* / genetics
  • Trout / parasitology