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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Mitchell, Andrew
item Durborow, Robert
item Crosby, M

Submitted to: Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Poliferative gill disease or hamburger gill disease is a severe gill disease of channel catfish. It is caused by an unidentified protozoan parasite and occurs in about 10% of the cases processed by diagnosticians across the southeast. Infected fish swim lazily around the edges of the pond and because of the gill damage, act as if they are suffering from low dissolved oxygen. High death rates can occur. The disease usually shows up in the spring and fall when the temperature ranges from 15 to 22 degrees Celsius. It is believed that the infected organisms come from small worms living in the bottom muds of the pond. There are no approved methods for control or treatment.

Technical Abstract: Proliferative gill disease, also called hamburger gill disease, is a severe infection of the gill tissues of channel catfish (Icalurus punctatus). It occurs in about one out of every ten diagnostic cases involving channel catfish and can kill up to 100 percent of the fish in a pond. Although normally occurring at 15 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius it has caused disease in channel catfish well outside this temperature range. Infected fish swim listlessly at the water's surface and suffer from anoxia because of damaged gill tissue. Swollen gill tissue, shortened gill filaments with rounded or square tips, notches and breaks in the cartilage supports for the gill filaments, and areas of pooled red blood cells within the gill filaments characterize the damaged gills. It is thought that the cause of this infection is a sporozoan parasite. The parasite appears to have a Dero worm, a small worm living in the mud of the pond bottom, as an intermediate host. There are no scientifically validated treatments or prevention methods for this disease.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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