The sea louse Lepeophtheirus acutus (Caligidae, Siphonostomatoida, Copepoda) as a pathogen of aquarium-held elasmobranchs

M.J.L. Kik, M Janse, G.W. Benz

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    Lepeophtheirus acutus Heegaard, 1943 (Caligidae, Siphonostomatoida, Copepoda), was collected from or observed on four of six elasmobranch species held at Burgers’ Zoo (Arnhem, The Netherlands). Circumstantial evidence suggested that a zebra shark, Stegostoma fasciatum (Hermann), from the wild carried the infection into the facility, where copepods reproduced and colonized additional hosts. Copepods typically attached on and about the eyes, in the mouth and occasionally about the cloaca and on the claspers. Severe ocular lesions were associated with infections on zebra sharks, a grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos (Bleeker), whitetip reef sharks, Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell), and giant shovelnose ray, Rhinobatos typus Bennett, while blacktip reef sharks, Carcharhinus melanopterus (Quoy & Gaimard), and blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus (Valenciennes), living in infested aquaria showed no sign of infection. Water treatments using trichlorfon were considered primarily responsible for the eradication of copepods from hosts and infested aquaria. This case is the first report of a copepod infection being closely associated with disease and death of an aquarium‐held elasmobranch. Given its ability to infect a wide variety of elasmobranchs and promote life‐threatening lesions on some hosts, L. acutus should be considered a dangerous pathogen of captive elasmobranchs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)793-799
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Fish Diseases
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


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