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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 146:129-143 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03630

Epizootiology of a Cryptococcus gattii outbreak in porpoises and dolphins from the Salish Sea

Sarah J. Teman1,*, Joseph K. Gaydos1, Stephanie A. Norman2, Jessica L. Huggins3, Dyanna M. Lambourn4, John Calambokidis3, John K. B. Ford5, M. Bradley Hanson6, Martin Haulena7, Erin Zabek8, Paul Cottrell9, Linda Hoang10,11, Muhammad Morshed10,11, Michael M. Garner12, Stephen Raverty8

1The SeaDoc Society, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center - Orcas Island Office, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Eastsound, WA 98245, USA
2Marine-Med: Marine Research, Epidemiology, and Veterinary Medicine, Bothell, WA 98021, USA
3Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA 98501, USA
4Marine Mammal Investigations, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lakewood, WA 98498, USA
5Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7, Canada
6Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA 98112, USA
7Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada
8Animal Health Centre, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Fisheries, Abbotsford, BC V3G 2M3, Canada
9Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4, Canada
10BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4R4, Canada
11Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z7, Canada
12Northwest ZooPath, Monroe, WA 98272, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus gattii is a fungal pathogen that primarily affects the respiratory and nervous systems of humans and other animals. C. gattii emerged in temperate North America in 1999 as a multispecies outbreak of cryptococcosis in British Columbia (Canada) and Washington State and Oregon (USA), affecting humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. Here we describe the C. gattii epizootic in odontocetes. Cases of C. gattii were identified in 42 odontocetes in Washington and British Columbia between 1997 and 2016. Species affected included harbor porpoises Phocoena phocoena (n = 26), Dall’s porpoises Phocoenoides dalli (n = 14), and Pacific white-sided dolphins Lagenorhynchus obliquidens (n = 2). The probable index case was identified in an adult male Dall’s porpoise in 1997, 2 yr prior to the initial terrestrial outbreak. The spatiotemporal extent of the C. gattii epizootic was defined, and cases in odontocetes were found to be clustered around terrestrial C. gattii hotspots. Case-control analyses with stranded, uninfected odontocetes revealed that risk factors for infection were species (Dall’s porpoises), age class (adult animals), and season (winter). This study suggests that mycoses are an emerging source of mortality for odontocetes, and that outbreaks may be associated with anthropogenic environmental disturbance.


KEY WORDS: Cryptococcus gattii · Cryptococcosis · Salish Sea · Odontocete · Epizootic · Zoonosis


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Cite this article as: Teman SJ, Gaydos JK, Norman SA, Huggins JL and others (2021) Epizootiology of a Cryptococcus gattii outbreak in porpoises and dolphins from the Salish Sea. Dis Aquat Org 146:129-143. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03630

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