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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03609

    Systemic Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae in seven free-ranging delphinids stranded in England and Wales

    Mary Elizabeth Ceccolini*, Mark Wessels, Shaheed Karl Macgregor, Robert Deaville, Matthew Perkins, Paul D. Jepson, Shinto Kunjamma John, Amanda Guthrie

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Microbiology records for 1127 cetaceans stranded on English and Welsh beaches and examined at the Institute of Zoology between 1990 and 2019 were reviewed to identify cases of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, an uncommon but potentially fatal zoonotic pathogen. Once cases were identified, prevalence was calculated, corresponding postmortem reports were reviewed, common gross and histopathological findings identified, and antibiotic susceptibilities determined. Overall prevalence for E. rhusiopathiae was 0.62% (7/1,127; 95% CI: 0.30–1.28%). It was isolated from three bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), three harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and one short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), with a prevalence of 21.4% (3/14; 95% CI: 7.6–47.9%), 0.39% (3/779; 95% CI: 0.13–1.13%), and 0.47% (1/212; 95% CI: 0.08–2.62%) for each species, respectively. E. rhusiopathiae resulted in septicemia in all cases from which it was isolated. Gross necropsy findings included pulmonary edema (5/7), hemorrhage (5/7) and/or congestion of various organs (4/7), and serosanguineous effusion (3/7: pericardial (3/7), pleural (2/6), abdominal (2/6)). Congestion (5/5), bacterial emboli (4/5), and hemorrhage (4/5) were commonly observed on histopathology and acute renal tubular injury (2/5) and pulmonary edema (2/5) were occasionally observed. Routine bacterial cultures were vital in identifying E. rhusiopathiae since gross lesions were often subtle and nonspecific. The liver, kidney, and brain were key organs from which E. rhusiopathiae was consistently isolated. Antibiotic resistance was uncommon and was only observed for amikacin and trimethoprim sulfonamide. Penicillins were consistently effective, along with fluoroquinolones, macrolides, clindamycin, cephalexin, and oxytetracycline.