Microsporidiosis in zebrafish research facilities Public Deposited

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This is the author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The article is copyrighted by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research and published by Oxford University Press. It can be found at:  http://ilarjournal.oxfordjournals.org/.

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  • Pseudoloma neurophilia (Microsporidia) is the most common pathogen detected in zebrafish (Danio rerio) from research facilities. The parasite infects the central nervous system and muscle, and may be associated with emaciation and skeletal deformities. However, many fish exhibit subclinical infections. Another microsporidium, Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, has recently been detected in a few zebrafish facilities. Here we review the methods for diagnosis and detection, modes of transmission, and approaches used to control microsporidia in zebrafish, focusing on P. neurophilia. The parasite can be readily transmitted by feeding spores or infected tissues, and we showed that cohabitation with infected fish is also an effective means of transmission. Spores are released from live fish at various points, including the urine, feces, and sex products during spawning. Indeed, P. neurophilia infects both the eggs and ovarian tissues, where we found concentrations ranging from (12,000 – 88,000 spores/ovary). Hence, various lines of evidence support the conclusion that maternal transmission is a route of infection: spores are numerous in ovaries and developing follicles in infected females, spores are present in spawned eggs and water from spawning tanks based on PCR tests, and larvae are very susceptible to the infection. Furthermore, egg surface disinfectants presently used in zebrafish laboratories are ineffective against microsporidian spores. At this time, the most effective method for prevention of these parasites is avoidance.
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  • Sanders, J. L., Watral, V., & Kent, M. L. (2012). Microsporidiosis in zebrafish research facilities. ILAR Journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, 53(2), 106-113. doi: 10.1093/ilar.53.2.106
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