Although much is known about the effects of electroshock on fish physiology, consequences to the immune system and disease progression have not received attention. Our objectives were to determine the effects of electroshock on selected immune function in juvenile spring chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, the mechanism of any observed alteration, and the effects of electroshock on disease progression. We found that the ability of anterior kidney leukocytes to generate antibody-producing cells (APC) was suppressed 3 h after a pulsed-DC electroshock (300 V, 50 Hz, 8 ms pulse width) but recovered within 24 h. This response was similar in timing and magnitude to that of fish subjected to an acute handling stress. The mechanism of suppression is hypothesized to be via an elevation of plasma cortisol concentrations in response to stress. Other monitored immune functions, skin mucous lysozyme levels, and respiratory burst activity were not affected by exposure to electroshock. The progression of a Renibacterium salmoninarum (RS) infection may have been altered after exposure to an electroshock. The electroshock did not affect infection severity or the number of mortalities, but may have accelerated the time to death. The limited duration of APC suppression and lack of effects on lysozyme and respiratory burst, as well as infection severity and mortality levels in RS-infected fish, led us to conclude that electrofishing under the conditions we tested is a safe procedure in regards to immunity and disease.
Additional publication details
The effects of electroshock on immune function and disease progression in juvenile spring chinook salmon