Three strains of rainbow trout and steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss were evaluated for the presence of whirling disease in field and laboratory trials. In the field exposures, fingerling Salmon River steelhead and Cayuga Lake and Randolph strains of rainbow trout were placed in wire cages in an earthen, stream-fed pond in New York State that was known to harbor Myxobolus cerebralis. Control fish were held at another hatchery that was free of whirling disease. In the controlled trials at the National Fish Health Research Laboratory, fingerling steelhead and Cayuga Lake and Mount Lassen rainbow trout were exposed to triactinomyxons at low (200 triactinomyxons/fish) or high (2,000 triactinomyxons/fish) levels for 2 h. Controls of each group were sham-exposed. Following an incubation period of 154 d for laboratory trials and 180 d for field trials, cranial tissue samples were taken for spore enumeration (field and laboratory trials) and histological analyses (laboratory only). Clinical signs of disease, including whirling behavior, blacktail, and skeletal deformities, were recorded for each fish in the laboratory trial at the terminal sampling. No clinical evidence of disease was noted among fish in the field trials. Clinical signs were noted among all strains in the laboratory trials at both exposure levels, and these signs were consistently greatest for the Mount Lassen strain. Whirling and skeletal deformities were more evident in the steelhead than in the Cayuga Lake rainbow trout; blacktail was more common in the Cayuga Lake fish. In both field and laboratory trials, spore counts were significantly higher for Cayuga Lake rainbow trout than in steelhead. In laboratory trials, moderate to marked cranial tissue lesions predominated in all three strains.
Additional publication details
A comparison of susceptibility to Myxobolus cerebralis among strains of rainbow trout and steelhead in field and laboratory trials