An evaluation of indices of gross pathology associated with the nematode Anguillicoloides crassus in eels

Lefebvre, F.; Fazio, G.; Palstra, A.P.; Szekely, C.; Crivelli, A.J.


This study compares two alternative indices for quantifying the gross pathology of the swimbladder of eels, Anguilla anguilla (L.), infected with the nematode Anguillicoloides crassus. Two observers recorded twice the scores obtained by the two indices on the same set of 71 wild caught eels (from elver to silver eels, French Mediterranean lagoons). The Length Ratio Index (LRI), performed better than the Swimbladder Degenerative Index (SDI), in three of four predefined criteria of decision. First, the LRI better correlated with an estimate of the swimbladder volume reduction, a functional consequence of the infection (representativeness). Also, the LRI was less prone to subjectivity (inter-observer variability) and more precise (intra-observer variability), although less easy to generate (time needed for measurement/assessment). Using a sub-sample of 32 unaffected eels (showing minor if any swimbladder damage and no living worms at autopsy), we ascertained a linear relationship between the swimbladder length and the total body length, a prerequisite of isometric growth, to definitively accept the new ratio index as a valid alternative to the SDI. Also, because the LRI can be recorded on live specimens with radio-imagery (non-invasive method), we recommend its use, and provide a graph of correspondence between the SDI scores, the LRI scores and the estimated proportion of gas loss in the swimbladder