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Jones K.L.,Louisiana State University | Jones K.L.,Murdoch University | Field C.L.,Audubon Aquarium of the Americas | Stedman N.L.,Northwest ZooPath | Maclean R.A.,Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2014

A 13-yr-old male African black-footed penguin (Spheniscus demersus) presented thrice over 7 mo with gastrointestinal obstruction secondary to cloacolithiasis. Clinical signs consistently resolved with cloacolith removal and supportive care. However, 10 mo after initial presentation, it presented with similar signs, plus significant weight loss. No cloacolith was found, and it subsequently died. Significant gross findings included bilateral cecal masses, colonic perforation, and marked secondary coelomitis, multifocal tan to pale hepatic nodules, and pale kidneys with miliary white foci. Histopathologic diagnoses were intestinal lymphosarcoma with hepatic and renal metastases, secondary intestinal rupture, and subacute severe bacterial coelomitis. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first full report of either cloacolithiasis or lymphosarcoma in a penguin. © 2014 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

Venn-Watson S.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Garrison L.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Litz J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Fougeres E.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

A multi-year unusual mortality event (UME) involving primarily common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) was declared in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) with an initial start date of February 2010 and remains ongoing as of August 2014. To examine potential changing characteristics of the UME over time, we compared the number and demographics of dolphin strandings from January 2010 through June 2013 across the entire GoM as well as against baseline (1990-2009) GoM stranding patterns. Years 2010 and 2011 had the highest annual number of stranded dolphins since Louisiana's record began, and 2011 was one of the years with the highest strandings for both Mississippi and Alabama. Statewide, annual numbers of stranded dolphins were not elevated for GoM coasts of Florida or Texas during the UME period. Demographic, spatial, and temporal clusters identified within this UME included increased strandings in northern coastal Louisiana and Mississippi (March-May 2010); Barataria Bay, Louisiana (August 2010-December 2011); Mississippi and Alabama (2011, including a high prevalence and number of stranded perinates); and multiple GoM states during early 2013. While the causes of the GoM UME have not been determined, the location and magnitude of dolphin strandings during and the year following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including the Barataria Bay cluster from August 2010 to December 2011, overlap in time and space with locations that received heavy and prolonged oiling. There are, however, multiple known causes of previous GoM dolphin UMEs, including brevetoxicosis and dolphin morbillivirus. Additionally, increased dolphin strandings occurred in northern Louisiana and Mississippi before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Identification of spatial, temporal, and demographic clusters within the UME suggest that this mortality event may involve different contributing factors varying by location, time, and bottlenose dolphin populations that will be better discerned by incorporating diagnostic information, including histopathology. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All rights reserved. Source

Venn-Watson S.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Colegrove K.M.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Litz J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Kinsel M.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | And 18 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

A northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) cetacean unusual mortality event (UME) involving primarily bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama began in February 2010 and continued into 2014. Overlapping in time and space with this UME was the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, which was proposed as a contributing cause of adrenal disease, lung disease, and poor health in live dolphins examined during 2011 in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. To assess potential contributing factors and causes of deaths for stranded UME dolphins from June 2010 through December 2012, lung and adrenal gland tissues were histologically evaluated from 46 fresh dead non-perinatal carcasses that stranded in Louisiana (including 22 from Barataria Bay), Mississippi, and Alabama. UME dolphins were tested for evidence of biotoxicosis, morbillivirus infection, and brucellosis. Results were compared to up to 106 fresh dead stranded dolphins from outside the UME area or prior to the DWH spill. UME dolphins were more likely to have primary bacterial pneumonia (22% compared to 2% in non-UME dolphins, P = .003) and thin adrenal cortices (33% compared to 7% in non-UME dolphins, P = .003). In 70% of UME dolphins with primary bacterial pneumonia, the condition either caused or contributed significantly to death. Brucellosis and morbillivirus infections were detected in 7% and 11% of UME dolphins, respectively, and biotoxin levels were low or below the detection limit, indicating that these were not primary causes of the current UME. The rare, life-threatening, and chronic adrenal gland and lung diseases identified in stranded UME dolphins are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds as seen in other mammals. Exposure of dolphins to elevated petroleum compounds present in coastal GoM waters during and after the DWH oil spill is proposed as a cause of adrenal and lung disease and as a contributor to increased dolphin deaths. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All rights reserved. This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. Source

Colegrove K.M.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Venn-Watson S.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Litz J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Kinsel M.J.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | And 25 more authors.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2016

An unusual mortality event (UME) involving primarily common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus of all size classes stranding along coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, USA, started in early 2010 and continued into 2014. During this northern Gulf of Mexico UME, a distinct cluster of perinatal dolphins (total body length <115 cm) stranded in Mississippi and Alabama during 2011. The proportion of annual dolphin strandings that were perinates between 2009 and 2013 were compared to baseline strandings (2000-2005). A case-reference study was conducted to compare demographics, histologic lesions, and Brucella sp. infection prevalence in 69 UME perinatal dolphins to findings from 26 reference perinates stranded in South Carolina and Florida outside of the UME area. Compared to reference perinates, UME perinates were more likely to have died in utero or very soon after birth (presence of atelectasis in 88 vs. 15%, p < 0.0001), have fetal distress (87 vs. 27%, p < 0.0001), and have pneumonia not associated with lungworm infection (65 vs. 19%, p = 0.0001). The percentage of perinates with Brucella sp. infections identified via lung PCR was higher among UME perinates stranding in Mississippi and Alabama compared to reference perinates (61 vs. 24%, p = 0.01), and multiple different Brucella omp genetic sequences were identified in UME perinates. These results support that from 2011 to 2013, during the northern Gulf of Mexico UME, bottlenose dolphins were particularly susceptible to late-term pregnancy failures and development of in utero infections including brucellosis. © The authors 2016. Source

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