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Efficacy of injectable praziquantel for elimination of trematode metacercariae in bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) and quantification of parasite death by propidium iodide staining

Bader, Chris, Jesudoss Chelladurai, Jeba, Starling, DavidE., Jones, DouglasE., Brewer, MatthewT.
Parasitology research 2018 v.117 no.2 pp. 365-370
Lepomis macrochirus, Posthodiplostomum, aquaculture systems, birds, death, fish, fish health, fluorescent dyes, helminthiasis, intermediate hosts, metacercariae, parasites, praziquantel, propidium, staining
Digenean trematodes have complex life cycles and control of these flatworms can be accomplished by eliminating immature parasite stages from intermediate hosts. In aquaculture systems, presence of trematode metacercariae can negatively impact fish health and lead to economic losses. Posthodiplostomum minimum is a parasite of birds that uses bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) as the intermediate host and is commonly found in fish used to stock waterways for recreational purposes. In this study, we evaluated killing of P. minimum metacercariae by injectable praziquantel in naturally infected bluegills. Using propidium iodide staining and motility assessment, we found that 5 mg/kg administered intramuscularly was effective for parasite killing. However, metacercarial death was not apparent until day 7 post-treatment. Our results demonstrated that propidium iodide staining is an effective method for detecting death in metacercariae recovered from treated fish. This method was at least as sensitive as objective motility scoring and provided quantitative assessment of parasite death. Future studies involving treatment of metacercariae in fish with praziquantel may need to be carried out over a period of weeks in order to accurately assess parasite killing and would benefit from using the propidium iodide method.