DAO 117:59-75 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02932

Epidemiology of lobomycosis-like disease in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops spp. from South America and southern Africa

Marie-Françoise Van Bressem1,*, Paulo C. Simões-Lopes2, Fernando Félix3, Jeremy J. Kiszka4, Fabio G. Daura-Jorge2, Isabel C. Avila5, Eduardo R. Secchi6,7, Leonardo Flach8, Pedro F. Fruet6,7, Kate du Toit9, Paulo H. Ott10,11, Simon Elwen9, Amanda B. Di Giacomo11, Jeanne Wagner12, Aaron Banks13, Koen Van Waerebeek

1Cetacean Conservation Medicine Group (CMED), Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research (CEPEC), Museo de Delfines, Pucusana, Peru
2Laboratory of Aquatic Mammals, Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, PO Box 5102, Florianópolis, SC 88040-970, Brazil
3Museo de Ballenas, Av. General Enríquez Gallo, entre calles 47 y 50, Salinas, Ecuador
4Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, 3000 NE 151st Street, North Miami, FL 33181, USA
5Department of Biometry and Environmental System Analysis, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
6Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha - EcoMega, Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande/FURG, Cx.P. 474 Rio Grande, RS 96203-900, Brazil
7Museu Oceanográfico ‘Prof. Eliézer de C. Rios’/FURG, Rua Heitor Perdigão 10, Rio Grande, RS 96200-970, Brazil
8Instituto Boto Cinza, Itacuruçá, Mangaratiba, RJ 23860-000, Brazil
9Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
10Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul (Uergs), Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação de Organismos e Ambientes Aquáticos (ECOAqua), Rua Machado de Assis, 1456, Osório, RS 95520-000, Brazil
11Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul (GEMARS), Rua Machado de Assis, 1456, Osório, RS 95520-000, Brazil
12Laboratoire ECOMAR, Université de la Réunion, 15 avenue René Cassin, BP 7151, 97715 St Denis Cedex, la Réunion, France
13Centre for Dolphin Studies, PO Box 1856, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
*‑Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We report on the epidemiology of lobomycosis-like disease (LLD), a cutaneous disorder evoking lobomycosis, in 658 common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from South America and 94 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins T. aduncus from southern Africa. Photographs and stranding records of 387 inshore residents, 60 inshore non-residents and 305 specimens of undetermined origin (inshore and offshore) were examined for the presence of LLD lesions from 2004 to 2015. Seventeen residents, 3 non-residents and 1 inshore dolphin of unknown residence status were positive. LLD lesions appeared as single or multiple, light grey to whitish nodules and plaques that may ulcerate and increase in size over time. Among resident dolphins, prevalence varied significantly among 4 communities, being low in Posorja (2.35%, n = 85), Ecuador, and high in Salinas, Ecuador (16.7%, n = 18), and Laguna, Brazil (14.3%, n = 42). LLD prevalence increased in 36 T. truncatus from Laguna from 5.6% in 2007-2009 to 13.9% in 2013-2014, albeit not significantly. The disease has persisted for years in dolphins from Mayotte, Laguna, Salinas, the Sanquianga National Park and Bahía Málaga (Colombia) but vanished from the Tramandaí Estuary and the Mampituba River (Brazil). The geographical range of LLD has expanded in Brazil, South Africa and Ecuador, in areas that have been regularly surveyed for 10 to 35 yr. Two of the 21 LLD-affected dolphins were found dead with extensive lesions in southern Brazil, and 2 others disappeared, and presumably died, in Ecuador. These observations stress the need for targeted epidemiological, histological and molecular studies of LLD in dolphins, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.


KEY WORDS: Delphinidae · Cutaneous diseases · Southern Hemisphere · Lacazia loboi · Paracoccidioides spp.


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Cite this article as: Van Bressem MF, Simões-Lopes PC, Félix F, Kiszka JJ and others (2015) Epidemiology of lobomycosis-like disease in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops spp. from South America and southern Africa. Dis Aquat Org 117:59-75. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02932

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