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A comparison of epidemiological patterns of salmon lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, infections on farmed Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar L., in Norway and Scotland

Heuch, P.A. and Revie, C.W. and Gettinby, G. (2003) A comparison of epidemiological patterns of salmon lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, infections on farmed Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar L., in Norway and Scotland. Journal of Fish Diseases, 26 (9). pp. 539-551. ISSN 0140-7775

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Abstract

This paper examines two large national data sets collected over several years and contrasts the patterns of sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer, 1837), infections, the use of treatments and the occurrence of chalimus peaks between Norwegian and Scottish farms. Infection levels in Scotland were significantly higher in general over the period under study. For the chalimus stage group in the first quarter of the year, Norwegian mean abundance stayed below 10 lice per m2 while Scottish means reached 45 lice per m2 of fish skin per m3 of water. Both countries had more chalimus in summer than at other times of year, but in the last 3 months of the year Scottish fish had, on average, two to four times as many chalimus as Norwegian fish. Peaks of chalimus abundance were more frequent in Scotland, particularly in winter, but the most prominent peaks occurred in summer in both countries. In Scotland a marked mid-year build-up of mobile pre-adult and adult stages was seen, and both countries showed a tendency for mobile counts on the second year fish to increase towards the end of the year. Scottish fish carried, on average, three times as many mobile lice per m2 of skin as Norwegian fish in the last 3 months of the year. The difference in lice loads was reflected in the greater use of veterinary medicines on Scottish farms. The higher infection levels in Scotland may be due to shallower and more enclosed water bodies used for farming, smaller and shallower pens, differences in sea water temperatures or in access to appropriate medication. The results highlight the importance of ensuring that effective veterinary medicines are available in the UK for the control of infection.