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Salmon Poisoning Disease

Views: 5763 - Comments: 2

Megan Brashear, CVT, VTS(ECC), discusses Salmon Poisoning Disease, a rickettsial disease in the Pacific NW. How the disease is contracted, clinical signs, and treatment measures are discussed.

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Megan Brashear's picture
Megan Brashear


Enrolled: 07/2011

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Hazel Kelleher's picture

Hi Megan,
I first would like to thank you for creating these fantastic videos. I have now watched several of yours and your ability to explain and provide information on these sometime challenging to understand topics is incredible. Really appreciated your ITP video as that is a topic I have struggled understanding for quite some time! I have watched this video twice now and am still unclear as to how the dogs are getting a rickettsial disease? Perhaps I am misunderstanding- so I would like to explain my thoughts in hopes you can catch where my misunderstanding is and clarify. Salmon poisoning occurs when a salmon or fish of the pacific northwest has a fluke, the fluke is passed to snails(not sure how), then the snail is ingested by raccoon or other wildlife and the fluke gets excreted in the wild animals feces and is then ingested by the dog. The fluke then takes up home in the dogs GI tract..then I am lost as to what happens? Is the fluke causing damage to the GI tract, why do we see a fever? I hope this note is adequate in conveying my understanding as well as my confusion.
Thank you for your time!
Much Appreciation,

Jessica Waters-Miller's picture

Hi Hazel,
Thanks for the great question! I know the whole process can be very confusing because there are so many life stages and host changes so I hope I can explain it to where it answers your question and can be understood. I am not going to go through all of the life cycles changes the fluke goes through to not complicate it more but hopefully this will answer your question.
The infected fluke ova is excreted into water by dogs, raccoon or birds from there it inhabits the freshwater snail (by either penetrating it or infecting it) from there it matures and then lives for a short period of time in the water again until infecting the fish (salmon, trout etc) or giant salamander. It then can infect most commonly the kidneys and muscles but can even infect and be passed via the fish's skin. Then a poor dog comes along and ingests or licks some part of the sick fish (or giant salamander). Once the dog has ingested the infected fish, the parasite then matures to its final life stage where it resides in the cells that line the dog’s intestines. The parasite also implants another organism a rickettsia into the intestinal lining where it reproduces and causes severe inflammation in the intestines causing severe diarrhea. It makes its way to the bloodstream and attacks many organs including the lymphatic system. This inflammation and attack on the body are what causes all of the signs and symptoms we see.
I hope this helps! Please feel free to ask where I should expand :)