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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 125:141-153 (2017)  -  DOI:

Health and Environmental Risk Assessment  Project for bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the southeastern USA. I. Infectious diseases

Gregory D. Bossart1,2,*, Patricia Fair3,4, Adam M. Schaefer5, John S. Reif

1Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30313, USA
2Division of Comparative Pathology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, PO Box 016960 (R-46), Miami, Florida 33101, USA
3National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, 219 Fort Johnson Rd, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
4Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA
5Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, 5600 U.S. 1 North, Fort Pierce, Florida 34946, USA
6Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: From 2003 to 2015, 360 free-ranging Atlantic bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus inhabiting the Indian River Lagoon (IRL, n = 246), Florida, and coastal waters of Charleston (CHS, n = 114), South Carolina, USA, were captured, given comprehensive health examinations, and released as part of a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional study of individual and population health. The aim of this review is to summarize the substantial health data generated by this study and to examine morbidity between capture sites and over time. The IRL and CHS dolphin populations are affected by complex infectious and neoplastic diseases often associated with immunologic disturbances. We found evidence of infection with cetacean morbillivirus, dolphin papilloma and herpes viruses, Chlamydiaceae, a novel uncultivated strain of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (recently identified as the causal agent of dolphin lobomycosis/lacaziasis), and other pathogens. This is the first long-term study documenting the various types, progression, seroprevalence, and pathologic interrelationships of infectious diseases in dolphins from the southeastern USA. Additionally, the study has demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel animal that may reflect environmental health concerns and parallel emerging public health issues.

KEY WORDS: Cetacean · Bottlenose dolphin · Cetacean Morbillivirus · Papilloma · Lobomycosis · Paracoccidioidomycosis ceti · Chlamydiaceae · Arbovirus

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Cite this article as: Bossart GD, Fair P, Schaefer AM, Reif JS (2017) Health and Environmental Risk Assessment  Project for bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the southeastern USA. I. Infectious diseases. Dis Aquat Org 125:141-153.

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