Amoebic Gill Disease - Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Symptoms typically begin to appear two months after the fish are transferred from freshwater hatcheries to open net sea cages. Symptoms include mucus build-up on the gills of infected fish and hyper-plastic lesions, causing white spots and eventual deterioration of the gill tissue. Fish will show signs of dyspnoea such as rapid opercular movements and lethargy. Although usually recognised by hyperplastic and proliferative gill lesions, the effects of AGD occur before oxygen transfer across the gill is severely compromised. AGD affected fish show a significant increase in vascular resistance contributing to cardiovascular collapse. Such effects result in compnesatory changes in heart shape to improve its efficiency at pumping blood.

Contributing factors are an ambient water temperature above 16 degrees Celsius, crowding and poor water circulation inside the sea pens. Clinical cases are more common in the Summer. The lesions on the gills are highly suggestive of infection. Gill biopsies can be observed under the microscope for amoebas, or tested using fluorescent antibody testing.

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