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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 136:235-241 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03410

Toxoplasmosis and Sarcocystis spp. infection in wild pinnipeds of the Brazilian coast

Laura Reisfeld1,2,*, Carlos Sacristán1, Eduardo Ferreira Machado1, Angélica María Sánchez-Sarmiento1, Samira Costa-Silva1,3, Ana Carolina Ewbank1, Pedro Enrique Navas-Suárez1, Juliana Mariotti Guerra4, Joana De Souza Pereira Barrel4, Rodrigo Albergaria Réssio4, Cíntia Maria Favero1, Silvia Gastal5, Cristiane Kiyomi Miyaji Kolesnikovas3, Juliana Marigo1, Valéria Ruoppolo1, José Luiz Catão-Dias1

1Laboratório de Patologia Comparada de Animais Selvagens, Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-270, Brazil
2Aquário de São Paulo, Ipiranga, São Paulo, SP 04275-000, Brazil
3Associação R3 Animal, rio Vermelho, Florianópolis, SC 88060-000, Brazil
4Instituto Adolfo Lutz, Cerqueira César, São Paulo, SP 01246-000, Brazil
5Centro de Recuperação de Animais Marinhos, Museu Oceanográfico Prof. Eliézer de Carvalho Rios, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG), Rio Grande, RS 96200-580, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The protozoans Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis spp. (Sarcocystidae: Apicomplexa) affect a wide variety of vertebrates. Both have been reported to infect pinnipeds, with impacts on health ranging from inapparent to fulminant disease and death. However, little is known regarding their infections and associated pathology in South American pinnipeds. We used histological techniques to survey for the presence of T. gondii and Sarcocystis spp. in 51 stranded pinnipeds from Brazil. Immunohistochemical and molecular assays were employed in those cases consistent with Sarcocystidae infection. T. gondii cysts were detected in the central nervous system and heart of a South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis, associated with meningoencephalitis, myocarditis and endocarditis, and confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Additionally, this animal presented Sarcocystis sp. cysts in brain and heart tissues. Four additional specimens—2 Subantarctic fur seals A. tropicalis, an Antarctic fur seal A. gazella and another South American fur seal—presented intrasarcoplasmic cysts compatible with Sarcocystis spp. in muscle samples. There was no inflammation associated with the Sarcocystis spp. tissue cysts and all cysts were negative for S. neurona immunohistochemistry. The B1 gene of T. gondii was amplified in the 5 pinnipeds infected by Sarcocystidae protozoans. To our knowledge, this is the first report of toxoplasmosis in wild South American pinnipeds and of Sarcocystis spp. in South American fur seals. Detection of terrestrial parasites in aquatic mammals could be an indicator of their presence in the marine environment.


KEY WORDS: Toxoplasma gondii · Sarcocystis sp. · Mortality · Pathology · Fur seal · Arctocephalus · Marine mammal


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Cite this article as: Reisfeld L, Sacristán C, Ferreira Machado E, Sánchez-Sarmiento AM and others (2019) Toxoplasmosis and Sarcocystis spp. infection in wild pinnipeds of the Brazilian coast. Dis Aquat Org 136:235-241. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03410

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