DAO prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03206

Lobomycosis-like disease in common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from Belize and Mexico: bridging the gap between the Americas

Eric A. Ramos*, Delma N. Castelblanco-Martínez, Jazmin Garcia, Jorge Rojas Arias, James R. Foley, Katherina Audley, Koen Van Waerebeek, Marie-Françoise Van Bressem

*Email: eric.angel.ramos@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Lobomycosis-like or lacaziosis-like disease (LLD) (also: paracoccidioidomycosis) are chronic cutaneous infections that affect Delphinidae in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. In the Americas, these diseases have been relatively well-described, nonetheless, gaps exist in our understanding of their distribution across the continent. Here we report on LLD affecting inshore bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the Caribbean waters of Belize and from the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean off the southwestern coast of Mexico. Photo-identification and catalog data gathered between 1992 and 2017 for 371 and 41 individuals, respectively from Belize and Mexico, were examined for the presence of LLD. In Belize, five free-ranging and one stranded dolphin were found positive in at least three communities with the highest prevalence in the south. In Guerrero, Mexico, four inshore bottlenose dolphins sighted in 2014–2017 were affected by LLD. These data highlight the need for histological and molecular studies to confirm the etiological agent. Additionally, we document a single case of LLD in an adult Atlantic spotted dolphin Stenella frontalis in southern Belize, the first report in this species. The role of environmental and anthropogenic factors in the occurrence, severity, and epidemiology of LLD in South and Central America requires further investigation.