Leech (Myzobdella lugubris) infestations in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in Back Bay, Virginia, USA.
Back Bay is an oligohaline, coastal bay in southeast Virginia, USA. Since 2004, leeches have been observed in the oral cavities of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in this body of water. Leeches (Myzobdella lugubris) have previously been documented in the oral cavities of largemouth bass in the Currituck Sound, which is confluent with Back Bay on its southern border. Supplemental stocking of largemouth bass in Back Bay since 2009 has resulted in an increasing population; however, concern exists that leech infestation may be negatively affecting health of larger fish, which are still less abundant than expected. Despite the wide distribution of this leech, there is little available literature regarding its health impacts on hosts. In this study, we examine potential impacts of oral leech infestations on stress markers and haematological parameters of largemouth bass in Back Bay. No significant changes in plasma glucose or cortisol were observed between leech-infested and uninfested fish, and haematological parameters were not significantly different between the groups. Further, there was no evidence of systemic infections associated with leech infestation.