Parasite Found in Local Salmon

Cysts containing the Henneguya parasite’s spores were found in donated fish. / Photos courtesy of Julia Hostler

By RHONDA BIGOVICH, Two Rivers Tribune

Chinook salmon caught in the Klamath River were found infested with a white and egg-shaped parasite named Henneguya embedded in their muscle tissues.

The parasite was first found in Sweden and Canada. It can be transferred from fish to fish.

While at sea, the fish are subjected to sea lice that attach themselves. The sea lice eat the skin and blood of the fish, breaking their first layer of outer protection, which allows the parasite to enter the body.

Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Deputy Director George Kautsky said the Heeneguya parasite won’t cause any health issues in humans.

“The Parasite is not a health hazard,” Kautsky said.

Hoopa Tribal Fisheries sent the sample to the U.S. Fish and Game Wildlife Service at the California Nevada Fish Health Care Service.

According to the pathology report issued by the Us Fish and Wildlife Service it said, “Fluid filled cysts in muscle contained Henneguya zschokkei spores. This myxosporean parasite is not a human threat.”

Julia Hostler, project coordinator for the Fish for Elders Program, said, “The first donation that the parasite was discovered in was received on September 17.”

“We sent the first half to the Hoopa Fisheries Department,” Hostler said. “We disposed of the second half.”

Fisheries has received more reports and sightings of the parasites in the Hoopa Valley.

“Most people dispose of the fish when they catch them,” Kautsky said.

With the Klamath River at an all-time low, its ability to clean itself may be reduced.

Hostler said, “The Fish for Elders Program will not give fish to the elders that are contaminated with diseases or parasites.”

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