Cryptosporidium scophthalmi n. sp. is described from the turbot Scophthalmus maximus L., sampled from different farms on the coast of NW Spain. The parasite was found mainly in the intestinal epithelium and very seldom in the stomach. Oocysts were almost spherical, with 4 naked sporozoites and a residuum, and measured 3.7-5.03 x 3.03-4.69 μm (mean 4.44 x 3.91) (shape index 1.05-1.34, mean 1.14). Sporulation was endogenous, as fully sporulated oocysts were found within the intestinal epithelium, lumen and faeces. Merogonial and gamogonial stages were in the typical extracytoplasmic position, whereas sporogonial stages were deep within the epithelium. Oocysts and other stages of C. scophthalmi comply with most of the diagnostic features of the genus Cryptosporidium, but differ from all hitherto described species. Ultrastructural features, including the characteristic feeding organelle, were mainly comparable with those of other Cryptosporidium species. Mitochondria were frequently observed in sporozoites. Infection prevalence was very variable, and juvenile fish were most frequently and intensively parasitised. External clinical signs were not detected, although some fish showed intestinal distension at necropsy. The marked histopathological damage occurring in severe infection includes distension of epithelial cells by large vacuoles, containing clusters of oocysts, and can lead to sloughing of epithelial cell remnants and oocysts or even detachment of intestinal mucosa. An inflammatory reaction involving leucocyte infiltration was sometimes observed.
- Cryptosporidium scophthalmi n. sp.