DAO 90:105-112 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02224

Modeling lacaziosis lesion progression in common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus using long-term photographic records

Leslie Burdett Hart1,*, Randall S. Wells2, Jeffrey D. Adams3, Dave S. Rotstein4, Lori H. Schwacke1,5

1Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA
2Chicago Zoological Society, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA
3NOAA/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
4University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland 20746, USA
5NOAA/NCCOS Center for Human Health Risk, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA

ABSTRACT: Lacaziosis (lobomycosis) is a skin disease caused by Lacazia loboi, occurring naturally only in humans and dolphins. Attempts to culture the pathogen in vitro have been unsuccessful, and inoculation studies of lacaziosis development in mice have provided only limited, short-term data on the progression and propagation of L. loboi. The present study used photographic data from long-term photo-identification and health assessment projects to model and quantify the progression of lacaziosis lesions in 3 common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA. Dorsal fin images throughout each animal’s sighting history were examined for lesion growth, and the proportion of lesion coverage in each photograph was estimated using image analysis tools in Adobe Photoshop®. The progression of lacaziosis lesions and lesion growth rates were modeled using a non-linear monomolecular growth model. As data on lacaziosis development and advancement are limited in humans and laboratory animals, dolphins with a long-term case history of the disease may serve as a good animal model to better understand lacaziosis progression. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the utility of long-term population monitoring data for tracking the progression of a poorly understood disease that is relevant to both dolphin and human health.

KEY WORDS: Lacaziosis · Lacazia loboi · Bottlenose dolphin · Monomolecular growth model · Skin disease · Sarasota Bay · Lobomycosis

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Cite this article as: Burdett Hart L, Wells RS, Adams JD, Rotstein DS, Schwacke LH (2010) Modeling lacaziosis lesion progression in common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus using long-term photographic records. Dis Aquat Org 90:105-112

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