The potential of commercial praziquantel formulations as "off label" treatments for diplectanum oliveri (monogenea) infecting cultured argyrosomus species in the South African marine finfish aquaculture industry
Joubert, Casper Jan Hendrik
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Aquaculture is a vast industry all over the world and has increased significantly during the past 30 years. In South Africa, finfish aquaculture farms stretch from Gansbaai to as far as Richards bay with the potential of extending into Mozambique. The future success of this fast growing industry in South Africa strongly relies on the development of the supporting sector such as government legislation, sponsorship, participation of the pharmaceutical industry and research and development in aquatic organism health management. Diplectanum oliveri Williams, 1989, a monogenean gill parasite of both Argyrosomus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1843) (dusky kob) and A. inodorus Griffiths & Heemstra, 1995 (silver kob) is currently regarded in South Africa as the most persistent ectoparasite associated with the culture of both fish species, causing pathological tissue changes in the areas associated with attachment and feeding which can result in stock losses. The egg production of D. oliveri was used to evaluate and develop a method to quantify monogenean infections on fish, by counting the eggs produced by infra-populations of these parasites over a 24-hour period and to determine the reliability of this method as a non-invasive/non-destructive method to quantify the intensity of an individual infra-population of parasites on a single host. Currently, Diplectanum spp. on dusky kob are being controlled in local mariculture facilities using methods and drugs that are traditionally used for monogeneans (flukes) and are regarded as effective. Most of these drugs are, however, no longer approved for use in food fish and none of them has proven to be very effective in controlling D. oliveri in culture facilities, which can result in subsequent re-infections of epidemic proportion. Currently, there are no anthelmintics registered for aquaculture in South Africa. An registered anthelmintic used in terrestrial animals (sheep, goats, cattle and ostriches) containing praziquantel was tested at various concentrations and exposures against D. oliveri on A. japonicus to determine the efficacy of two different formulations and the potential for "off label" use. The 20 ppm (high) praziquantel concentration treatments eliminated all adult parasites, but caused significant measureable stress and affected the central nervous system of the fish, which resulted in death of all fish in the solution group after 18 hours. The 2 ppm (low) concentrations failed to remove all adult parasites. Although both the 2 hour (short) exposure/high concentration and 24 hour (long) exposure/low concentration of the suspension formulation were effective, but only the short exposure/high concentration eliminated all adult parasites with little change in behaviour by the treated fish.