DAO 95:49-56 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02345

Lacaziosis and lacaziosis-like prevalence among wild, common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the west coast of Florida, USA

Leslie Burdett Hart1,*, Dave S. Rotstein2, Randall S. Wells3, Kim Bassos-Hull3, Lori H. Schwacke1,4

1Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina,
135 Cannon St. Suite 303., Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA
2University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, OPL, 4210 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746, USA
3Chicago Zoological Society, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA
4NOAA/NCCOS Center for Human Health Risk, 331 Ft. Johnson Rd., Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA Medical University of South Carolina, 331 Ft. Johnson Rd., Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, South Carolina, 29412, USA

ABSTRACT: Lacaziosis (lobomycosis; Lacazia loboi) is a fungal skin disease that naturally occurs only in humans and dolphins. The first reported case of lacaziosis in a bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus occurred in 1970 in Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA, and subsequent photo-ID monitoring of the Sarasota Bay dolphin population has revealed persistence of the disease. The objectives of this study were to estimate lacaziosis prevalence (P) in 2 bottlenose dolphin populations on the west coast of Florida (Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor) and compare disease occurrence to other published estimates of lacaziosis in dolphin populations across the globe. Historic photographic records of dolphins captured and released for health assessment purposes (Sarasota Bay) and photo-ID studies (Charlotte Harbor) were screened for evidence of lesions consistent with lacaziosis. Health assessment data revealed a prevalence of lacaziosis in the Sarasota Bay bottlenose dolphin population between 2 and 3%, and analyses of photo-ID data provided a lacaziosis-like prevalence estimate of 2% for Charlotte Harbor dolphins. With the exception of lacaziosis prevalence estimates for dolphins inhabiting the Indian River Lagoon (P = 0.068; P = 0.12), no statistically significant differences were seen among Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and other published estimates. Although lacaziosis is a rare disease among these dolphin populations, studies that assess disease burden among different populations can assist with the surveillance of this zoonotic pathogen.


KEY WORDS: Lacaziosis · Lobomycosis · Bottlenose dolphin · Tursiops truncatus · Sarasota Bay · Charlotte Harbor


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Cite this article as: Burdett Hart L, Rotstein DS, Wells RS, Bassos-Hull K, Schwacke LH (2011) Lacaziosis and lacaziosis-like prevalence among wild, common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the west coast of Florida, USA. Dis Aquat Org 95:49-56

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