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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Novel infections of Corynosoma enhydri and Profilicollis sp. (Acanthocephala: Polymorphidae) identified in sea otters Enhydra lutris

    Kyle M. Shanebeck, Jan Lakemeyer, Ursula Siebert, Kristina Lehnert*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Sea otters Enhydra lutris are a keystone species, and are of continued concern for conservationists, infectious disease being a major cause of mortality for the population. Parasitic infection has long been identified as a cause of mortality in otters in both Alaska and California. Corynosoma enhydri is the only parasite that uses sea otters as its primary definitive host and is highly prevalent in otter populations though generally considered unimportant, both pathologically and ecologically, based on limited knowledge. Research has focused on Profilicollis infections (P. major, P. kenti, P. altmani) as a significant source of otter mortality due to associated enteritis and peritonitis, which are a threat for otter health. Here we report acanthocephalan infections in sea otters by Profilicollis sp. and Corynosoma enhydri (Acanthocephala), from a survey comparing C. enhydri infections between northern sea otters (E. lutris kenyoni) (n = 12) and southern sea otters (E. lutris nereis) (n = 19). We also report a novel infection of C. enhydri in a pup approximately one month of age, which shows that the early introduction to solid food at around three weeks by their mothers may lead to subsequent infection via infected prey items. We also report two novel cases of Profilicollis sp. infection in northern sea otters, observed for the first time, which may present an unknown threat to the Alaskan population, or an interesting example of accidental infection.