DAO 120:241-244 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03034

NOTE
Detection of Brucella spp. in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus by a real-time PCR using blowhole swabs

Qingzhong Wu1,*, Jessica Conway2, Kristen M. Phillips3, Megan Stolen4, Wendy N. Durden4, Deborah Fauquier5, Wayne E. McFee2, Lori Schwacke1

1Hollings Marine Laboratory, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 331, Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
2Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
3Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, USA
4Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Melbourne Beach, Florida 32951, USA
5Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Blowhole swabs are a simple and non-invasive method for collecting samples from cetaceans and can be used for screening large numbers of animals in the field. This study reports a real-time PCR assay for the detection of Brucella spp. using blowhole swab samples from bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus stranded in the coastal region of Virginia, South Carolina and northern Florida, USA, between 2013 and 2015. We used real-time PCR results on lung samples from the same dolphins in order to estimate the relative sensitivity and specificity of real-time PCR of blowhole swabs. Brucella DNA was detected in lung tissue of 22% (18/81) and in blowhole swabs of 21% (17/81) of the sampled dolphins. The relative sensitivity and specificity of real-time PCR on blowhole swabs as compared to the real-time PCR on lung samples was 94% (17/18) and 100% (63/63), respectively. These results indicate that real-time PCR on blowhole swabs may be used as a non-invasive test for rapid detection of Brucella spp. in the respiratory tract of dolphins. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the use of blowhole swabs for detection of bacterial pathogens by real-time PCR in bottlenose dolphins.


KEY WORDS: Bottlenose dolphins · Brucella spp. · Real-time PCR · Blowhole swab · Lung


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Cite this article as: Wu Q, Conway J, Phillips KM, Stolen M and others (2016) Detection of Brucella spp. in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus by a real-time PCR using blowhole swabs. Dis Aquat Org 120:241-244. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03034

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