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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Survey of selected pathogens in free-ranging pinnipeds in Uruguay

    H. Katz*, F. Schelotto, D. Bakker, M. Castro-Ramos, D. Gutierrez-Expósito, Y. Panzera, R. Pérez, V. Franco-Trecu, E. Hernández, C. Menéndez, P. Meny

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Marine mammals, regarded as sentinels of aquatic ecosystem health, are exposed to different pathogens and parasites under natural conditions. We surveyed live South American fur seals Arctocephalus australis and South American sea lions Otaria flavescens in Uruguay for Leoptospira spp., canine distemper virus (CDV), Mycobacterium spp., Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum. Samples were collected from 2007 to 2013. The seroprevalence of Leptospira spp. was, for A. australis (n = 61) 37.6% positive, 50.9% negative and 11.5% suspect, while for O. flavescens (n = 12) it was 67% positive, 25% negative and 8% suspect. CDV RNA was not detected in any of the analyzed samples. Most animals tested as seropositive to tuberculosis antigens by WiZo ELISA (A. australis: 29/30; O. flavescens: 20/20); reactivity varied with a novel ELISA test (MPB70-MPB83-ESAT6-MPB59 antigens). Seroprevalence against N. caninum and T. gondii was 6.7% and 13.3% positive for O. flavescens, and 0% and 2.2% positive for A. australis respectivelly. To evaluate possible sources of infection for pinnipeds, wild rats Rattus rattus and semi-feral cats Felis catus were additionally tested for Leptospira spp. and T. gondii respectively. Water samples tested for Leptospira revealed saprofitic L. bioflexa. Pathogenic Leptospira were detected in kidneys of 2 rats, and cats tested positivie for T. gondii (100%). These results represent a substantial contribution to the study of the health status in wild pinnipeds in Uruguay.