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Mixed Eimeria and Cryptosporidium infection and its effects on pathology and clinical outcomes in juvenile Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) cultured in Thailand.

Coccidiosis is an important disease in juvenile fish because of severe intestinal injury during infection. We first reported the mixed infection of intestinal coccidia and its association with health status and pathological findings in juvenile Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) cultured in Thailand. Two groups of Asian seabass, 60-day fish and 90-day fish, were sampled to investigate prevalence and coccidian infection intensity using morphological characterization and PCR. Phylogenetic analysis of 18S rRNA gene amplified from the intestines revealed Eimeria sp. and Cryptosporidium sp. infection. The prevalence of Eimeria sp. and Cryptosporidium sp. in sampled fish was 100%. Clinical outcomes assessed, using health assessment index (HAI) scoring and semi-quantitative grading of intestinal lesions and inflammation, demonstrated that all fish developed variety of pathology and clinical illness; however, infection intensity in 60-day fish was significantly higher (p < .05) than 90-day fish. The HAI score of 60-day fish was poorer than 90-day fish, which correlated to a high infection intensity (r = .397), analysed by Pearson correlation coefficient. Overproduction of intestinal oxidants contributing to mucosal injury was examined by nitrotyrosine expression. The high production of reactive nitrogen species indicated severe inflammatory response, and intestinal injuries occurred mainly in the 60-day fish.

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