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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03410

    Toxoplasmosis and Sarcocystis spp. infection in wild pinnipeds of the Brazilian coast

    Laura Chrispim Reisfeld*, Carlos Sacristán, Eduardo Ferreira Machado, Angélica María Sánchez-Sarmiento, Samira Costa-Silva, Ana Carolina Ewbank, Pedro Enrique Navas-Suárez, Juliana Mariotti Guerra, Joana De Souza Pereira Barrel, Rodrigo Albergaria Réssio, Cíntia Maria Favero, Silvia Gastal, Cristiane Kiyomi Miyaji Kolesnikovas, Juliana Marigo, Valéria Ruoppolo, José Luiz Catão-Dias

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The protozoans Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis spp. (Sarcocystidae: Apicomplexa) affect a wide variety of vertebrates. Both Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis spp. infections have been reported in pinnipeds, with impact on health ranging from inapparent to fulminant disease and death. However, little is known regarding T. gondii and Sarcocystis sp. infections and their associated pathology in South American pinnipeds. We used histological techniques to survey the presence of T. gondii and Sarcocystis spp. in 51 stranded pinnipeds from Brazil. Immunohistochemical and molecular assays were employed in those cases consistent with Sarcocystidae infection. T. gondii cysts were detected in the central nervous system and heart of a South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis, associated with meningoencephalitis, myocarditis and endocarditis, and confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Additionally, this animal presented Sarcocystis sp. cysts in brain and heart tissues. Four additional specimens — two Subantarctic fur seals A. tropicalis, one Antarctic fur seal A. gazella and another South American fur seal — presented intrasarcoplasmic cysts compatible with Sarcocystis spp. in muscle samples. There was no inflammation associated with the Sarcocystis spp. tissue cysts and all cysts were negative to S. neurona immunohistochemistry. The B1 gene of T. gondii was amplified in the five pinnipeds infected by Sarcocystidae protozoans. To our knowledge, this is the first report of toxoplasmosis in wild South American pinnipeds and of Sarcocystis spp. in South American fur seals. Detection of terrestrial parasites in aquatic mammals could be an indicator of their presence in the marine environment.