The growth and emigration of Hystherothylacium aduncum in laboratory-reared herring larvae Clupea harengus was studied. Experimental infections of 36-day-old herring larvae resulted in 126 hosts infected with 306 H. aduncum larvae. Regression analyses showed a significant worm emigration from the rectum to the head of the fish, accompanied by an increase in worm body length. The emigration was independent of worm intensity, which suggests an ontogenetic process. Some worms departed from this pattern by moving posteriorly or by penetrating into the muscle, and in 5 cases, the larvae were observed to leave living fish. This individual variation has not been observed in previous studies and might be explained by host signals related to condition or development stage. Indirect evidence suggested parasite-induced mortality in the tanks due to the emigrations because only 4 of the 126 infected fish survived 8 days postinfection; the emigration of H. aduncum affected vital organs, such as the heart and brain, and the larvae penetrating or leaving the host's tissues can cause extensive damage to the delicate herring larvae.
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