Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 December 2016
Latin America has tripled production by aquaculture up to 78 million tonnes in the past 20 years. However, one of the problems that aquaculture is facing is the presence of helminth parasites and the diseases caused by them in the region. In this review we have collected all the available information on helminths affecting commercial aquaculture in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), emphasizing those causing serious economic losses. Monogeneans are by far the most common and aggressive parasites affecting farmed fish in LAC. They have been recognized as serious pathogens in intensive fish culture because they reach high levels of infection rapidly, and can infect other phylogenetically related fish species. The next most important group comprises the larval stages of digeneans (metacercariae) such as Diplostomum sp. and Centrocestus formosanus, which cause serious damage to farmed fish. Since LAC aquaculture has been based mainly on exotic species (tilapia, salmon, trout and carp), most of their parasites have been brought into the region together with the fish for aquaculture. Recently, one of us (A.I.P.-T.) has suggested that monogeneans, which have generally been considered to be harmless, can produce serious effects on the growth of cultured Nile tilapia. Therefore, the introduction of fish together with their ‘harmless’ parasites into new sites, regions or countries in LAC should be considered a breakdown of biosecurity in those countries involved. Therefore, the application of quarantine procedures and preventive therapeutic treatments should be considered before allowing these introductions into a country.