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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03536

    Exposure of the Gulf of St. Lawrence grey seal Halichoerus grypus population to potentially zoonotic infectious agents

    Caroline C. Sauvé, Adrián Hernández-Ortiz, Emily Jenkins, Fabien Mavrot, Angela Schneider, Susan Kutz, Jeremiah T. Saliki, Pierre-Yves Daoust*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The population of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in Canadian waters is currently used as a commercial source of meat for human consumption. As with domestic livestock, it is important to understand the occurrence in these seals of infectious agents that may be of public health significance and thus ensure that appropriate measures are in place to avoid zoonotic transmission. This study examined the prevalence of antibodies against Brucella spp., Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, 6 serovars of Leptospira interrogans, and Toxoplasma gondii in 59 grey seals and determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) the presence of these potentially zoonotic agents in specific organs and tissues of seropositive animals. The presence of Trichinella spp. was also determined by digestion of tongue, diaphragm and other muscle samples. No Trichinella spp. larva was detected. Seroprevalence against Brucella spp. and E. rhusiopathiae was low (5% and 3%, respectively). All 59 seals tested had antibodies against L. interrogans, but no carrier of this bacterium was detected by PCR. Seroprevalence against T. gondii was 53%, and DNA of this protozoan was detected by PCR in 37% of 30 seropositive animals. Standard sanitary measures mandatory for commercialization of meat products for human consumption should greatly reduce the potential for exposure to these infectious agents. However, special consideration should be given to consistently freezing seal meat for at least 3 d to ensure destruction of tissue cysts of T. gondii