This study describes the effect of increasing exposure dose on Ichthyophonus prevalence and infection intensity in experimentally infected rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Specific-pathogen free trout were exposed per os to increasing numbers of Ichthyophonus schizonts obtained from naturally infected donor fish, then sampled after 30 and 60 days post-exposure. Both in vitro explant culture and histology revealed that as the number of schizonts per dose increased there was a proportionate increase in the number of infected fish, as well as an increase in the number of infected organs; parasite density in individual infected organs also increased with dose. Explant culture revealed that all fish exposed to the highest dose (≥2,080 schizonts) became infected, while only 67% of those exposed to the intermediate dose (1,040–1,153 schizonts) were Ichthyophonus-positive after 60 days; Ichthyophonus was not detected in fish exposed to the 2 lowest doses (≤280 schizonts). Histologic examination of individual infected organs also revealed increasing infection prevalence and parasite density in response to exposure to increasing numbers of Ichthyophonus schizonts.

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