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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Epizootiology of a Cryptococcus gattii outbreak in porpoises and dolphins from the Salish Sea

    Sarah J. Teman*, Joseph K. Gaydos, Stephanie A. Norman, Jessica L. Huggins, Dyanna M. Lambourn, John Calambokidis, John K. B. Ford, M. Bradley Hanson, Martin Haulena, Erin Zabek, Paul Cottrell, Linda Hoang, Muhammad Morshed, Michael M. Garner, Stephen Raverty

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcus gattii is a fungal pathogen that primarily affects the respiratory and nervous systems of humans and animals. C. gattii emerged in temperate North America in 1999 as a multispecies outbreak of cryptococcosis in British Columbia, Washington State, and Oregon, affecting humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. We describe the C. gattii epizootic in odontocetes. Cases of C. gattii were identified in 42 odontocetes in Washington and British Columbia from 1997 to 2016. Species affected included harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena, n=26), Dall’s porpoises (Phocoenoides dalli, n=14), and Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, n=2). The probable index case was identified in an adult male Dall’s porpoise in 1997, two years prior to the initial terrestrial outbreak. The spatiotemporal extent of the C. gattii epizootic was defined and cases in odontocetes were found to be clustered around terrestrial C. gattii hotspots. Case-control analyses with stranded, uninfected odontocetes revealed that risk factors for infection were species (Dall’s porpoises), adult animals, and winter season. This study suggests that mycoses are an emerging source of mortality for odontocetes, and that outbreaks may be associated with anthropogenic environmental disturbance.