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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 132:85-97 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03306

Clinicopathological prognostic indicators of survival and pathological findings in cold-stressed Florida manatees Trichechus manatus latirostris

Molly Martony1,*, Jorge A. Hernandez1, Martine de Wit2, Judy St. Leger3, Claire Erlacher-Reid3, Jacob Vandenberg3, Nicole I. Stacy4

1Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32608, USA
2Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33711, USA
3SeaWorld Orlando, Veterinary Services, Orlando, Florida 32821, USA
4Department of Comparative, Diagnostic, and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32608, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Cold-stress syndrome (CSS) is a leading natural cause of mortality in free-ranging Florida manatees Trichechus manatus latirostris, but comprehensive investigations into blood analyte derangements and prognostic indicators in CSS are lacking. The objectives of this study were to (1) compare admission blood analyte data of manatees pre and post rehabilitation for CSS to identify clinicopathological derangements, (2) identify blood analyte prognostic indicators for survival, and (3) correlate post-mortem anatomic pathological changes with clinicopathological findings to improve the understanding of CS pathophysiology. CSS manatees admitted to a rehabilitation facility between 2007 and 2017 were included: 59 manatees with data for clinicopathological analysis (7 non-survivors and 49 survivors) and 14 manatees with necropsy data (7 with and 7 without blood analyte data). Main interpretive clinicopathological findings indicated systemic inflammation, bone marrow damage, diuresis, malnutrition, tissue necrosis, fat mobilization, hepatic impairment, acid-base imbalances, and gastrointestinal ulceration. The best diagnostically performing prognostic indicators for survival included platelet concentration, aspartate aminotransferase, calcium, and blood urea nitrogen. The main anatomic pathological findings were cutaneous lesions (n = 14), lipid depletion (n = 12), upper gastrointestinal ulceration and/or hemorrhage (n = 9), and pneumonia (n = 5). Based on the identified blood prognostic indicators interpreted in the context of anatomic pathological findings, multi-organ tissue injury, gastrointestinal ulceration and/or hemorrhage, and hemodynamic and platelet derangements are the presumptive major factors of CSS manatee mortality. These results contribute to the understanding of the complex CSS pathophysiology and offer the use of blood analyte prognostic indicators as a clinically applicable tool for the medical care of manatees during rehabilitation, thereby contributing to increased rehabilitation success and conservation of the Florida manatee.


KEY WORDS: Manatee · Sirenian · Cold-stress syndrome · CSS · Blood analyte · Pathology · Prognosis · Rehabilitation


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Cite this article as: Martony M, Hernandez JA, de Wit M, St Leger J, Erlacher-Reid C, Vandenberg J, Stacy NI (2019) Clinicopathological prognostic indicators of survival and pathological findings in cold-stressed Florida manatees Trichechus manatus latirostris. Dis Aquat Org 132:85-97. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03306

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