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Rowles T.K.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Schwacke L.S.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Wells R.S.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Saliki J.T.,University of Georgia | And 5 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science

Cetacean morbilliviruses (CeMV) are viruses that can cause mass mortalities among various odontocete species. In this study levels of "herd" immunity in cetaceans from the U.S. coast are described from the distribution and prevalence of antibodies against morbilliviruses. Neutralizing antibody titers against dolphin morbillivirus (DMV), porpoise morbillivirus (PMV), phocine distemper (PDV), and canine distemper viruses (CDV) were measured. Positive samples had higher titers against the CeMV than against the other morbilliviruses tested, indicating that although PDV or CDV can be used to investigate exposure their use may result in a higher false negative rate. The results suggest that morbillivirus did not persist in coastal populations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) after the major outbreaks that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Bottlenose dolphins from Beaufort, North Carolina; St. Joseph Bay, Florida; and Cape May, New Jersey had anti-DMV seroprevalences ranging from between 15% and 33% but those from Charleston, South Carolina and Sarasota Bay, Florida, sampled in recent years were largely negative. These latter groups are therefore now vulnerable to infection and could experience high mortality if exposed to CeMV. Sero-surveys of this kind are therefore vital for assessing the risk of new and recurring viral outbreaks in coastal cetaceans. 2010 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy Published 2010. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Source

Staggs L.,Gulf | St. Leger J.,Sea World San Diego | Bossart G.,Florida Atlantic University | Townsend Jr. F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

A necropsy was performed on a captive-born, 10-yr-old male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) after it died acutely. Gross necropsy findings revealed hemorrhage within the right cerebrum, right cerebellum, and right eye. Histopathologic findings revealed a moderate multifocal acute necrotizing meningoencephalitis with intralesional fungal hyphae. Several pieces of cerebrum and cerebellum and cerebrospinal fluid were sent to the Fungus Testing Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas (USA). The culture yielded Fusarium oxysporum, which was confirmed by internal transcribed spacer and D1-D2 sequencing. Fusarium oxysporum infection has been reported in marine mammals. No cases of noncutaneous F. oxysporum infection in a cetacean that was not on long-term antimicrobials have been reported in the literature. © 2010 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Fauquier D.A.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Gulland F.M.D.,The Marine Mammal Center | Townsend F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | Digiovanni R.A.,The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation
Marine Mammal Science

Until recently, few data were available for evaluating postintervention survival of free-ranging cetaceans receiving aid from humans through: rescue from stranding, with rehabilitation and release; rescue, rehabilitation and release of debilitated or entangled individuals that had not beached; rescue of entangled animals with immediate release; and rescue, transport, and release of out-of-habitat animals. Advances in medical diagnosis, husbandry and therapy have improved survival of rehabilitation cases, and advances in radio-telemetry have improved postrelease monitoring. In total, 69 cases (1986-2010) were evaluated, involving 10 species of odontocete cetaceans with release data. Findings suggested a success criterion of surviving at least six weeks postrelease is useful in evaluating intervention strategies. No species had better success than others. Stranded beached cetaceans were less successful than free-swimming rescued animals. Rehabilitated animals were less successful than those released without rehabilitation. Mass stranded dolphins fared better than single stranded animals. Old age, diminished hearing ability, and lack of maternal care were factors in several unsuccessful cases. Success is not clearly related to rehabilitation duration. Retaining healthy individuals from mass strandings until all animals are ready for release may reduce success for some. Transport durations for unsuccessful cases were greater than for successful cases. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy. Source

Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Twiner M.J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | De Guise S.,University of Connecticut | Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | And 11 more authors.
Environmental Research

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting coastal waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico have been impacted by recurrent unusual mortality events over the past few decades. Several of these mortality events along the Florida panhandle have been tentatively attributed to poisoning from brevetoxin produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. While dolphins in other regions of the Florida coast are often exposed to K. brevis blooms, large-scale dolphin mortality events are relatively rare and the frequency and magnitude of die-offs along the Panhandle raise concern for the apparent vulnerability of dolphins in this region. We report results from dolphin health assessments conducted near St. Joseph Bay, Florida, an area impacted by 3 unusual die-offs within a 7-year time span. An eosinophilia syndrome, manifested as an elevated blood eosinophil count without obvious cause, was observed in 23% of sampled dolphins. Elevated eosinophil counts were associated with decreased T-lymphocyte proliferation and increased neutrophil phagocytosis. In addition, indication of chronic low-level exposure to another algal toxin, domoic acid produced by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia spp., was determined. Previous studies of other marine mammal populations exposed recurrently to Pseudo-nitzschia blooms have suggested a possible link between the eosinophilia and domoic acid exposure. While the chronic eosinophilia syndrome could over the long-term produce organ damage and alter immunological status and thereby increase vulnerability to other challenges, the significance of the high prevalence of the syndrome to the observed mortality events in the St. Joseph Bay area is unclear. Nonetheless, the unusual immunological findings and concurrent evidence of domoic acid exposure in this sentinel marine species suggest a need for further investigation to elucidate potential links between chronic, low-level exposure to algal toxins and immune health. © 2010. Source

Harms C.A.,North Carolina State University | Jensen E.D.,Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific | Townsend F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | Hansen L.J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

Electrocardiography (ECG) was performed on captured free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) during a health assessment exercise and compared with that of a Navy collection of dolphins habituated to handling out of water in order to assess possible cardiovascular impacts of capture and handling. Six-lead recordings (I, II, III, aVr, aVl, and aVf) in the frontal plane and direct thorax leads were collected from both groups, with a modified base-apex lead additionally employed with the Navy collection dolphins. Measured and calculated parameters included amplitudes of P, R, S, and T waves and total QRS complex; T:S and T:QRS ratios; heart rate; durations of P wave; QRS complex, PR, QT, and RR intervals; maximum minus minimum RR interval; ST segment elevation-depression; and mean electrical axis (MEA). Physiologically minor but statistically significant differences were detected in S wave amplitude, PR interval, QRS duration, and MEA. The PR interval, QRS duration, and S wave amplitude were slightly greater and the MEA oriented slightly rightward in wild postcapture dolphins compared to Navy collection dolphins. There were no differences in heart rate or maximum minus minimum RR interval, which serves as a proxy for the expected sinus arrhythmia of dolphins. The base-apex lead resulted in greater QRS amplitude than lead II, as expected for the category B ventricular activation of dolphins. The left-side direct thorax lead was more consistent than that of the right side. Clinically, ECG was a useful adjunct to auscultation and thoracic palpation for monitoring heart rate and rhythm and generated a record for archiving. Safe capture and handling protocols in place, under which dolphins are immediately returned to the water at progressive signs of distress, may make cardiovascular decompensation less likely to be detected by ECG. It appears that the dolphin cardiovascular system compensates suitably well to capture, as measured by ECG under the conditions of this study. Copyright 2013 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

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