Managing Trematode Risk Through Host Control
Trematode parasite outbreaks are are detrimental to the catfish aquaculture industry. Bolbophorus damnificus is the most common trematode parasite encountered in southeastern US catfish production. The complex life cycle of B. damnificus includes a snail (first intermediate host), catfish (second intermediate host), and the American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos (final/tertiary host). The American White Pelican is a federally-protected species, limiting the options for management, and there are currently no approved therapeutics for trematode infections in catfish. Thus, the snail is the most viable target of B. damnificus management. P. trivolvis and B. havanensis are common cohabitants in catfish aquaculture ponds and each can serve as the snail host in the B. damnificus life cycle. We are working to better understand snail populations in these ponds to better inform treatment and management plans. Additionally, we are investigating natural and chemical methods/regimens to safely control snail populations as a way of reducing B. damnificus risk on catfish production facilities.