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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 137:23-31 (2019)  -  DOI:

Pathologic findings and causes of death in southern right whales Eubalaena australis, Brazil

Kátia R. Groch1,*, José L. Catão-Dias1, Karina R. Groch2, Cristiane K. M. Kolesnikovas3, Pedro V. de Castilho4, Luciana M. P. Moreira5, Cecil R. M. B. Barros5, Camila R. Morais de Medeiros2, Eduardo P. Renault-Braga2, Marcelo Sansone6, Josué Díaz-Delgado1

1Laboratory of Wildlife Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-270, Brazil
2Instituto Australis/Projeto Baleia Franca, Imbituba, SC 88780-000, Brazil
3Associação R3 Animal, Rodovia João Gualberto Soares (SC-406), Barra da Lagoa, Florianópolis, SC 88061-500, Brazil
4Departamento de Engenharia de Pesca e Biologia (DEPB), Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Bairro Progresso, Laguna, SC 88.790-000, Brazil
5Área de Proteção Ambiental da Baleia Franca/ICMBio, Imbituba, SC 88780-000, Brazil
6Instituto Adolfo Lutz, Centro de Patologia, Brasil, Pacaembú, São Paulo, SP 01246-000, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Southern right whales Eubalaena australis (SRWs) migrate to southern Brazil for breeding and calving from June through November. Overall, there is scarce knowledge on health status and pathologic conditions in SRWs. We report the pathologic and molecular investigation results of 8 SRWs that were necropsied between 2010 and 2017 within a breeding and calving ground in Santa Catarina state, Brazil. The animals were of various ages (7 newborns/calves, 1 adult) and sex (3 females, 5 males). Five whales stranded dead; 3 stranded alive and died shortly after (n = 2) or were euthanized (n = 1). The causes of stranding and/or death were neonatal respiratory distress syndrome with meconium aspiration (n = 3) with concomitant congenital hepatopathy in one of them; trauma of unknown origin (n = 3), infectious renal and lung disease with presumed sepsis (n = 1), and euthanasia (n = 1). Three animals were PCR-positive for cetacean morbillivirus; one of them also had morbilliviral antigen in kidney via immunohistochemical analysis. These results, integrating novel findings and a published report, contribute to the pathology knowledge of this species.

KEY WORDS: Cetacean · Fetal distress · Marine mammal · Meconium · Pathology · Southern right whale

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Cite this article as: Groch KR, Catão-Dias JL, Groch KR, Kolesnikovas CKM and others (2019) Pathologic findings and causes of death in southern right whales Eubalaena australis, Brazil. Dis Aquat Org 137:23-31.

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