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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 142:161-170 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03548

Serological screening for Brucella spp. and Leptospira spp. antibodies in southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina from Elephant Island, Antarctica, in 2003 and 2004

Angélica Maria Sánchez-Sarmiento1,*, Valeria Ruoppolo1,2, Mônica Mathias Costa Muelbert3,4, José Soares Ferreira Neto5, 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
2International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Yarmouth Port, MA 02675, USA
3Universidade Federal de São Paulo (IMar/UNIFESP), Rua Dr Carvalho de Mendonça 144, Santos, SP 11070-100, Brazil
4Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Tasmania 7004, Australia
5Laboratório de Zoonoses Bacterianas, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-270, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Brucella spp. and Leptospira spp. antibodies were surveyed in 35 southern elephant seals (SESs) Mirounga leonina at Elephant Island (South Shetland Islands), western Antarctic peninsula, in the Austral summer of 2003 and 2004. The rose Bengal test and a commercial competitive ELISA (c-ELISA) were used to detect Brucella spp. exposure, and the microscopic agglutination test (MAT) with 22 live serovars was used to determine anti-Leptospira spp. antibodies. We found evidence of Brucella spp. exposure in 3 of 35 (8.6%) SESs tested via the c-ELISA displaying high percentage inhibition (PI), similar to other studies in pinnipeds in which Brucella spp. antibodies have been determined. Two of the 3 positives were pups (PI = 70.4 and 86.6%), while the third was an adult female (PI = 48.8%). The 3 c-ELISA positive SESs were additionally tested via the serum agglutination test but were found to be negative. All individuals were negative for antibodies against 22 Leptospira spp. serovars by MAT. These results contribute to the knowledge and monitoring of zoonotic pathogens with epizootic potential in Southern Ocean pinnipeds. Given the potential impact that pathogens may have on the abundance of wild (sometimes threatened and endangered) populations, constant monitoring and surveillance are required to prevent pathogen spread, particularly under forecast climate change scenarios.


KEY WORDS: Competitive ELISA · Brucellosis · Leptospirosis · Southern elephant seals · Phocidae · Serology


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Cite this article as: Sánchez-Sarmiento AM, Ruoppolo V, Muelbert MMC, Ferreira Neto JS, Catão-Dias JL (2020) Serological screening for Brucella spp. and Leptospira spp. antibodies in southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina from Elephant Island, Antarctica, in 2003 and 2004. Dis Aquat Org 142:161-170. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03548

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