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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 142:33-40 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03520

Tuberculosis in wild South American sea lions Otaria flavescens stranded in Chubut, Argentina

Carla Fiorito1,2, Jimena Marfil3, Elvira Falzoni3, Marcela Martínez Vivot3, Martín Zumárraga4, Daniel Lombardo2,*, Soledad Barandiaran3,5

1Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Centro para el Estudio de Sistemas Marinos (CESIMAR-CONICET), U9120, Chubut, Argentina
2Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias. Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología en Reproducción Animal (INITRA), Cátedra de Histología y Embriología, C1427CWO, Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Cátedra de Enfermedades Infecciosas, C1427CWO, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Instituto de Agrobiotecnología y Biología Molecular, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (IABIMO, INTA-CONICET), C1033AAE, Buenos Aires, Argentina
5Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), C1425FQB, Buenos Aires, Argentina
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Pinniped tuberculosis, commonly caused by Mycobacterium pinnipedii, is a zoonotic disease reported in free-living and captive otariid species of the southern hemisphere. Currently, data concerning pinniped tuberculosis in South America are scarce, reinforcing the need for further studies of the disease in free-ranging pinnipeds. In this study, we investigated the presence of tuberculosis in South American sea lions Otaria flavescens (SASLs) stranded along the Chubut coastline (Argentina). Necropsies were performed in 9 SASLs, and tissue samples were collected for histopathology, bacteriology, and molecular diagnosis. Four SASLs showed enlarged tracheobronchial lymph nodes (TBLNs) with multifocal to coalescing granulomas. In these animals, a direct IS6110-PCR amplification confirmed the presence of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex member in TBLNs (n = 4) and lungs (n = 2), but the agent could not be further identified. In one SASL, Mycobacterium murale was isolated from lungs without lesions. This study confirms the presence of tuberculosis in SASLs from Chubut, where tourist activities promote close interaction with the animals, generating a potential risk to human health. Further research is currently focusing on addressing the prevalence of tuberculosis in wild SASLs, to assess the risk for public health and develop management strategies to avoid human infection.


KEY WORDS: Pinnipeds · Tuberculosis · Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex · Zoonosis · Public health


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Cite this article as: Fiorito C, Marfil J, Falzoni E, Martínez Vivot M, Zumárraga M, Lombardo D, Barandiaran S (2020) Tuberculosis in wild South American sea lions Otaria flavescens stranded in Chubut, Argentina. Dis Aquat Org 142:33-40. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03520

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