Salmon poisoning disease

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Salmon poisoning disease (SPD) is a fatal disease of dogs and other canids caused by a rickettsial parasite, Neorickettsia helminthoeca.[1] It results from eating raw salmon, trout, or salamander and is common in the Pacific Northwest. These fish and amphibians are infected with the larvae of a fluke, Nanophyetus salmincola through an intermediate host, the snail Oxytrema plicifer. The larvae attaches to the intestine of the dog and the rickettsial parasites are released, causing severe gastrointestinal disease and systemic infection.

Neorickettsia elokominica, carried by the same fluke, causes a similar disease known as Elokomin fluke fever (EFF) in canids, bears, raccoons, and ferrets.[2]


Symptoms of SPD begin about one week after eating the salmon and include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, high fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Untreated, mortality reaches 90 percent.[3] Death occurs seven to ten days after symptoms begin.[1]

EFF has less severe symptoms than SPD, with less gastrointestinal signs and more lymph node involvement. The mortality in untreated cases is about 10 percent.[2]

A similar disease has been identified in Brazil.[4]


Diagnosis is through finding the fluke eggs microscopically in a stool sample. A needle aspiration biopsy of an enlarged lymph node will reveal rickettsial organisms within macrophages in many cases.[5] The rickettsial infection can be successfully treated with tetracycline, and the fluke infection can be treated with fenbendazole.


  1. ^ a b Ettinger, Stephen J.; Feldman, Edward C. (1995). Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine (4th ed.). W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 0-7216-6795-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Salmon Poisoning Disease and Elokomin Fluke Fever". The Merck Veterinary Manual. 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  3. ^ Lobetti, Remo (2006). "Infectious Diseases of the GI Tract" (PDF). Proceedings of the 31st World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  4. ^ Headley S, Vidotto O, Scorpio D, Dumler J, Mankowski J (2004). "Suspected cases of Neorickettsia-like organisms in Brazilian dogs". Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1026: 79–83. doi:10.1196/annals.1307.010. PMID 15604473. 
  5. ^ Johns J, Strasser J, Zinkl J, Christopher M; Strasser; Zinkl (2006). "Lymph node aspirate from a California wine-country dog". Vet Clin Pathol. 35 (2): 243–6. doi:10.1111/j.1939-165X.2006.tb00123.x. PMID 16783722.