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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03520

    Tuberculosis in wild South American sea lions Otaria flavescens stranded in Chubut, Argentina

    Carla Fiorito, Jimena Marfil, Elvira Falzoni, Marcela Martínez Vivot, Martín Zumárraga, Daniel Lombardo*, Soledad Barandiaran

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Pinniped tuberculosis, commonly caused by Mycobacterium pinnipedii, is a zoonotic disease reported in free-living and captive otariid species of the southern hemisphere. Currently, data concerning pinniped tuberculosis in South America is scarce, reinforcing the need for further studies of the disease in free-ranging pinnipeds. In this study, we investigated the presence of tuberculosis in South American sea lions Otaria flavescens (SASLs) stranded along the Chubut coastline (Argentina). Necropsies were performed in 9 SASLs, and tissue samples were collected for histopathology, bacteriology and molecular diagnosis. Four SASLs showed enlarged tracheobronchial lymph nodes (TBLN) with multifocal to coalescing granulomas. In these animals, a direct IS6110-PCR amplification confirmed the presence of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex member in TBLN (n = 4) and lungs (n = 2), but the agent could not be further identified. In one SASL, Mycobacterium murale was isolated from lungs without lesions. This study confirms the presence of tuberculosis in SASLs from Chubut, where tourist activities promote close interaction with the animals, generating a potential risk to human health. Further research is focusing on addressing the prevalence of tuberculosis in wild SASLs, and thus, to assess the risk for public health and develop management strategies to avoid human infection.