Abstract

A 1 yr study was conducted to determine which fish species may play a role in the life cycle of Anguillicola crassus in various habitats of Lake Balaton, Hungary. The prevalence and intensity of the larval infection of fish species acting as paratenic hosts was studied, and observations were made on the types of paratenic host reactions against larvae. With the exception of 1 species, all 20 fish species were infected by A. crassus larvae; however, the prevalence and intensity of infection varied widely. Six species (asp, white bream, Chinese rasbora, pike, river goby, European catfish), hitherto unreported as paratenic hosts, also proved to be infected by larvae in Lake Balaton. Of the 13 fish species examined in large numbers, ruffe and European catfish showed the highest prevalence of infection (100 %), followed by river goby (83 %), white bream (79 %) and bleak (68 %). Of these 13 fish species, ruffe showed the highest intensity of infection by live larvae (mean intensity: 39.3 3rd stage larvae, L3), followed by European catfish (mean number of live larvae: 26.9) and river goby (mean number of live larvae: 9.1). The mean number of live L3 in bleak, a species regarded as the principal food source for eels, was 4.1. Specimens containing only dead or both dead and live larvae were much more common in cyprinid fishes than in species belonging to other taxonomical entities. In these fish, the process of encapsulation and subsequent necrosis of live larvae could also be observed. With knowledge of the feeding habits of eels, it appears that bleak play the most important role in the transmission of anguillicolosis. Other intensively infected fish species (e.g. ruffe) may also contribute to massive infection of individual eels, even if they have a lower share in the eels' food structure.

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