Salmon poisoning disease

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Salmon poisoning disease (SPD) is a fatal disease of dogs and other canids caused by a rickettsial bacterium, 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[citation needed]. The larvae attaches to the intestine of the dog and the rickettsial bacteria 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 978-0-7216-6795-9.
  2. ^ a b "Salmon Poisoning Disease and Elokomin Fluke Fever". The Merck Veterinary Manual. 2016. Retrieved 2018-02-22.
  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 (1): 79–83. Bibcode:2004NYASA1026...79H. 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.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)