BACKGROUNDInfestations of the parasitic copepod Lepeophtheirus salmonis, commonly referred to as sea lice, represent a major challenge to commercial salmon aquaculture. Dependence on a limited number of theraputants to control such infestations has led to concerns of reduced sensitivity in some sea lice populations. This study investigates trends in the efficacy of the in-feed treatment emamectin benzoate in Scotland, the active ingredient most widely used across all salmon producing regions.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGSStudy data were drawn from over 50 commercial Atlantic salmon farms on the west coast of Scotland between 2002 and 2006. An epi-informatics approach was adopted whereby available farm records, descriptive epidemiological summaries and statistical linear modelling methods were used to identify factors that significantly affect sea lice abundance following treatment with emamectin benzoate (SLICE(R), Schering Plough Animal Health). The results show that although sea lice infestations are reduced following the application of emamectin benzoate, not all treatments are effective. Specifically there is evidence of variation across geographical regions and a reduction in efficacy over time.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCEReduced sensitivity and potential resistance to currently available medicines are constant threats to maintaining control of sea lice populations on Atlantic salmon farms. There is a need for on-going monitoring of emamectin benzoate treatment efficacy together with reasons for any apparent reduction in performance. In addition, strategic rotation of medicines should be encouraged and empirical evidence for the benefit of such strategies more fully evaluated.
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