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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 148:57-72 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03644

Brucella ceti sequence type 23, 26, and 27 infections in North American cetaceans

Jeffrey B. Curtiss1,*, Kathleen M. Colegrove1, Allison Dianis1, Michael J. Kinsel1, Nadia Ahmed1, Deborah Fauquier2, Teresa Rowles2, Misty Niemeyer3, David S. Rotstein4, Carol W. Maddox5, Karen A. Terio1

1Zoological Pathology Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brookfield, IL 60513, USA
2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
3International Fund for Animal Welfare, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675, USA
4Marine Mammal Pathology Services, Olney, MD 20832, USA
5Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61802, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Brucella ceti infection is associated with a variety of disease outcomes in cetaceans globally. Multiple genotypes of B. ceti have been identified. This retrospective aimed to determine if specific lesions were associated with different B. ceti DNA sequence types (STs). Characterization of ST was performed on 163 samples from 88 free-ranging cetaceans, including common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (T.t.; n = 73), common short-beaked dolphin Delphinus delphis (D.d.; n = 7), striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba (n = 3), Pacific white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens (n = 2), sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus (n = 2), and harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena (n = 1), that stranded along the coast of the US mainland and Hawaii. ST was determined using a previously described insertion sequence 711 quantitative PCR. Concordance with 9-locus multi-locus sequence typing was assessed in a subset of samples (n = 18). ST 26 was most commonly identified in adult dolphins along the US east coast with non-suppurative meningoencephalitis (p = 0.009). Animals infected with ST 27 were predominately perinates that were aborted or died shortly after birth with evidence of in utero pneumonia (p = 0.035). Reproductive tract inflammation and meningoencephalitis were also observed in adult T.t. and D.d. with ST 27, though low sample size limited interpretation. ST 23 infections can cause disease in cetacean families other than porpoises (Phocoenidae), including neurobrucellosis in D.d. In total, 11 animals were potentially infected with multiple STs. These data indicate differences in pathogenesis among B. ceti STs in free-ranging cetaceans, and infection with multiple STs is possible.


KEY WORDS: Brucella ceti · Brucellosis · Bottlenose dolphin · Cetacean · IS711 · Tursiops truncatus · Delphinus delphis · Pathology · Dolphins


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Cite this article as: Curtiss JB, Colegrove KM, Dianis A, Kinsel MJ and others (2022) Brucella ceti sequence type 23, 26, and 27 infections in North American cetaceans. Dis Aquat Org 148:57-72. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03644

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