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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 150:69-83 (2022)  -  DOI:

Survey of selected pathogens in free-ranging pinnipeds in Uruguay

H. Katz1,*, F. Schelotto2, D. Bakker3, M. Castro-Ramos4, D. Gutiérrez-Expósito5, Y. Panzera6, R. Pérez6, V. Franco-Trecu7, E. Hernández2, C. Menéndez2, P. Meny2

1Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de la República (UdelaR), 11600 Montevideo, Uruguay
2Departamento de Bacteriología y Virología, Instituto de Higiene, UdelaR, 11600 Montevideo, Uruguay
3Independent expert, 8212AM Lelystad, The Netherlands
4Área de Bacteriología, Dirección de Laboratorios Veterinarios ‘Miguel C. Rubino’, Ministerio de Ganadería, Agricultura y Pesca, 12100 Montevideo, Uruguay
5SALUVET, Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
6Sección Genética Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay
7Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine mammals, regarded as sentinels of aquatic ecosystem health, are exposed to different pathogens and parasites under natural conditions. We surveyed live South American fur seals Arctocephalus australis and South American sea lions Otaria flavescens in Uruguay for Leptospira spp., canine distemper virus (CDV), Mycobacterium spp., Toxoplasma gondii, and Neospora caninum. Samples were collected from 2007 to 2013. The seroprevalence of Leptospira spp. was 37.6% positive, 50.9% negative, and 11.5% suspect for A. australis (n = 61) while for O. flavescens (n = 12) it was 67% positive, 25% negative, and 8% suspect. CDV RNA was not detected in any of the analyzed samples. Most animals tested seropositive to tuberculosis antigens by WiZo ELISA (A. australis: 29/30; O. flavescens: 20/20); reactivity varied with a novel ELISA test (antigens MPB70, MPB83, ESAT6 and MPB59). Seroprevalence against N. caninum and T. gondii was 6.7 and 13.3% positive for O. flavescens and 0 and 2.2% positive for A. australis respectively. To evaluate possible sources of infection for pinnipeds, wild rats Rattus rattus and semi-feral cats Felis catus were also tested for Leptospira spp. and T. gondii respectively. Water samples tested for Leptospira revealed saprofitic L. bioflexa. Pathogenic Leptospira were detected in the kidneys of 2 rats, and cats tested positive for T. gondii (100%). These results represent a substantial contribution to the study of the health status of wild pinnipeds in Uruguay.

KEY WORDS: Arctocephalus australis · Canine distemper virus · Leptospira spp. · Mycobacterium spp. · Neospora caninum · Otaria flavescens · Toxoplasma gondii

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Cite this article as: Katz H, Schelotto F, Bakker D, Castro-Ramos M and others (2022) Survey of selected pathogens in free-ranging pinnipeds in Uruguay. Dis Aquat Org 150:69-83.

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