Epidemiology of squamous cell carcinomas in rudd Scardinius erythrophthalmus from SE Ireland

C Hanajavanit , Mairead Bermingham, Maire F Mulcahy

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An epidemiological study was carried out to investigate the possible aetiology of squamous cell carcinomas which occur in a population of rudd Scardinius erythrophthalmus (L.) from Lough Aderry in south-east Ireland. A total of 1343 rudd were sampled from Lough Aderry and 2 nearby small lakes in spring, summer, autumn, and winter over 2 yr, 1986 to 1988. Fish were weighed, measured, sexed, aged, and examined for lesions. Water quality parameters and natural radioactivity were assessed as possible influencing factors in the disease. The prevalence of squamous cell carcinoma was 6.1% overall, with no significant difference between the lakes, seasons or years. Both male and female fish were affected, of ages from 1+ to 5+ yr. No fish of 6+ or 7+ yr was found with tumours, indicating that the neoplasm caused premature death. The female:male sex ratio of rudd with tumours was higher than that of healthy rudd overall, suggesting that males are more susceptible to the neoplasm. Of the parasites observed, Posthodiplostomum cuticola was common, but rarely found in rudd with tumours. Sphaerospora sp.was also common, but not in sufficient densities for statistical inference, and Argulus sp. was present on 7 fish. No viral particles were found. Natural radiation levels in the vicinity of the lakes were low. The lakes sampled are in an agricultural catchment, and the waters were eutrophic. While rudd are tolerant, it is likely that environmental conditions were stressful at least some of the time, with possible consequences for the immunocompetence of the rudd. The aetiology of the carcinoma is still unknown, but the possibilities of carcinogenic compounds resulting from the high nutrient levels, or of carcinogenic algal toxins produced during algal blooms, should be examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-156
JournalDiseases of aquatic organisms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2008


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