DAO 122:77-83 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03055

NOTE
Disseminated toxoplasmosis Toxoplasma gondii in a wild Florida manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris and seroprevalence in two wild populations

Lauren N. Smith1,*, Thomas B. Waltzek2, David S. Rotstein3, Ruth Francis-Floyd4, Michael T. Walsh4, James F. X. Wellehan5, Rick Gerhold6, Alycia E. Chapman6, Martine de Wit7

1Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604, USA
2Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, PO Box 110880, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
3Marine Mammal Pathology Services, 19117 Bloomfield Road, Olney, MD 20832, USA
4Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, and 5Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, 2015 SW 16th Avenue, PO Box 100126, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
6Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, 2407 River Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
7Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 3700 54th Avenue South, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine mammals are important indicators for ecosystem health and serve as sentinel species for infectious agents including zoonoses. Histological examination of tissues from a stranded Florida manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris revealed protozoal cysts in the cerebrum and intrahistiocytic tachyzoites in the liver and caudal mesenteric lymph node. Disseminated Toxoplasma gondii infection was confirmed by immunohistochemistry and sequencing of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region of formalin-fixed tissues. The lack of baseline information on Florida manatees’ exposure to this pathogen prompted a study into the seroprevalence of T. gondii in 2 separate geographic habitats in Florida, USA, during the winters from 2011-2014. Serum was collected during routine health assessments of 44 apparently healthy manatees from Crystal River (n = 26) on the west central coast of Florida and Brevard County (n = 18) on the east coast of Florida. Serum was screened for detection of T. gondii immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies via the modified agglutination test. Two animals from Crystal River from 2011 and 2012 (7.7%) and one animal from Brevard County from 2011 (5.6%) tested positive for T. gondii antibodies. Overall seroprevalence for T. gondii was low in the 2 sampled populations and may reflect a low seroprevalence or animal susceptibility. However, continued monitoring of this pathogen in aquatic ecosystems is warranted due to both possible anthropogenic sources and zoonotic potential.


KEY WORDS: Florida manatee · Disseminated toxoplasmosis · Modified agglutination test · Serology · Toxoplasma gondii · Zoonosis


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Cite this article as: Smith LN, Waltzek TB, Rotstein DS, Francis-Floyd R and others (2016) Disseminated toxoplasmosis Toxoplasma gondii in a wild Florida manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris and seroprevalence in two wild populations. Dis Aquat Org 122:77-83. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03055

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