ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Abstract We performed postmortem examination on four South American sea lions (Otaria byronia) from an urban colony in Valdivia, Chile. Chronic leptospirosis and suspected morbillivirus-like infection were diagnosed in one individual. Antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii and the zoonotic helminthes Contracaecum sp., Pseudoterranova sp., and Diphyllobothrium sp. were also detected.
Content may be subject to copyright.
BioOne sees sustainable scholarly publishing as an inherently collaborative enterprise connecting authors, nonprofit publishers, academic
institutions, research libraries, and research funders in the common goal of maximizing access to critical research.
Postmortem Findings in Four South American Sea Lions (Otaria byronia)
from an Urban Colony in Valdivia, Chile
Author(s): Maximiliano A. Sepúlveda, Mauricio Seguel, Mario Alvarado-Rybak, Claudio
Verdugo, Claudia Muñoz-Zanzi, and Rafael Tamayo
Source: Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 51(1):279-282. 2015.
Published By: Wildlife Disease Association
BioOne ( is a nonprofit, online aggregation of core research in the biological,
ecological, and environmental sciences. BioOne provides a sustainable online platform for over 170
journals and books published by nonprofit societies, associations, museums, institutions, and presses.
Your use of this PDF, the BioOne Web site, and all posted and associated content indicates your
acceptance of BioOne’s Terms of Use, available at
Usage of BioOne content is strictly limited to personal, educational, and non-commercial use.
Commercial inquiries or rights and permissions requests should be directed to the individual publisher as
copyright holder.
DOI: 10.7589/2013-07-161 Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 51(1), 2015, pp. 279–282
Wildlife Disease Association 2015
Postmortem Findings in Four South American Sea Lions
(Otaria byronia) from an Urban Colony in Valdivia, Chile
Maximiliano A. Sepu´lveda,
Mauricio Seguel,
Mario Alvarado-Rybak,
Claudio Verdugo,
Claudia Mun˜ oz-Zanzi,
and Rafael Tamayo
Instituto de Medicina Preventiva Veterinaria, Facultad de
Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Campus Isla Teja s/n, Valdivia, Chile;
Laboratorio de Estudios
en Biologı
´a y Conservacio´n de Mamı
´feros y Aves Acua´ticas, Universidad Austral de Chile, Campus Isla Teja s/n,
Valdivia, Chile;
Instituto de Patologı
´a Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Austral de Chile,
Campus Isla Teja s/n, Valdivia, Chile;
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health,
University of Minnesota, 1300 S Second St., Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454, USA;
Department of
Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, 501 D. W. Brooks Dr #148, Athens, Georgia
30602, USA;
Current address: Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontificia Universidad
Cato´lica de Chile, Alameda 340, Santiago, Chile;
Corresponding author (email:
We performed postmortem exam-
ination on four South American sea lions
(Otaria byronia) from an urban colony in
Valdivia, Chile. Chronic leptospirosis and
suspected morbillivirus-like infection were
diagnosed in one individual. Antibodies against
Toxoplasma gondii and the zoonotic helminthes
Contracaecum sp., Pseudoterranova sp., and
Diphyllobothrium sp. were also detected.
A resident, nonbreeding, small group of
South American sea lions (SASLs; Otaria
byronia) has been present since the mid-
1970s in the center of Valdivia, southern
Chile (39u489S, 73u149W) (Schlatter 1976).
This small group consists of approximately
of 50 juvenile, subadult, and adult males.
Because SASLs use publicspaces, there is a
risk of pathogen transmission between
SASLs and humans and their pets. We
performed postmortem examination in four
SASLs to determine cause of death and
assess presence of relevant pathogens.
Between March 2008 and December
2010 we necropsied four SASLs and per-
formed ancillary diagnostic studies. Two
SASLs (SASLs 1 and 2) were part of an
ecologic study and died during routine
anesthesia (1.2 mg/kg of tiletamin/zolaze-
pam, ZoletilH, delivered intramuscularly)
(Haulena 2008). Both animals died despite
being apparently healthy at the time of
darting. The two additional sea lions (SASL
3 and 4) were found emaciated on the
shore of the Valdivia River and died within
24 h of discovery. Serum samples to detect
antibodies against canine distemper virus
(CDV), canine parvovirus-2 (CPV-2),
Toxoplasma gondii,Leptospira interrogans
serovars Pomona, Icterohaemorrhagiae,
Hardjo, Bratislava, Copenhageni, Canicola;
Leptospira kirschneri serovar Grippoty-
phosa; and Leptospira biflexa serovar Patoc
were collected premortem from SASLs 1,
2, and 4. Blood from SASL 3 was plated on
MacConkey and blood agars.
Complete necropsies were performed
on all SASLs within 24 h of death.
Sections from major organs and tissues
(including brain) were fixed in 10%
neutral buffered formalin and processed
for histopathology. Samples of lung, liver,
and mesenteric, bronchial, and mediasti-
nal lymph nodes were collected from
SASLs 3 and 4 and were processed and
cultured, and the microorganisms were
identified by standard bacteriologic tech-
niques (Barrow and Feltham 2004). Gas-
trointestinal parasites were placed in 70%
ethanol and identified by light microscopy
(Carvajal et al. 1983; Mercado et al. 2010).
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) using a
monoclonal antibody against CDV nucle-
oprotein was performed on lung, medias-
tinal lymph node, brain, spleen, and
bladder (Stone et al. 2011). We also
performed IHC on kidney samples using
aLeptospira-specific polyclonal antibody
against L. interrogans serovars Bratislava,
Canicola, Hardjo, Icterohaemorrhagiae,
and Pomona, and against L. kirschneri
Grippotyphosa (Colegrove et al. 2005).
Serologic results are shown in Table 1.
Sea lion 1 was a 200-cm, 320-kg, adult
male. Antibodies to CDV (1:8), CPV-2
(1:64), and L. interrogans serovars Pomona
and Bratislava (.1:400) were detected. At
histopathology there was mild, nonsuppu-
rative meningoencephalitis and moderate,
multifocal neutrophilic and lymphoplasma-
cytic bronchopneumonia with epithelial
necrosis and abundant deposition of fibrin
in the bronchioles. Occasional bronchiolar
gland epithelial cells presented mild in-
tracytoplasmatic staining for morbillivirus
antigen. There was moderate multifocal
lymphoplasmacytic interstitial nephritis
and a few leptospires detected in the
renal tubules with the Warthin-Starry
silver stain and IHC (Fig. 1). Sea lion 2
was a 210-cm, 250-kg, adult male. Anti-
bodies against CPV-2 (1:64) and Toxo-
plasma gondii (1:256) were detected. The
same pattern of bronchopneumonia ob-
served in SASL 1 was found in SASL 2
but was milder. Sea lion 3 was a 120-cm,
65-kg, juvenile male. On postmortem
examination, 70%of the lung paren-
chyma presented a marked multifocal to
coalescing bronchointerstitial histiocytic
pneumonia. Gram-negative bacilli and
Gram-positive cocci were observed inside
macrophages in the lung, spleen, and
mediastinal and axillary lymph nodes.
There was moderate lymphoid depletion
in the spleen and most lymph nodes.
Proteus mirabilis and Staphylococcus sp.
(nonhemolytic) were isolated from lung,
spleen, and mediastinal and axillar lymph
nodes. Protozoal cysts (probably Sarcocys-
tis sp.) were found in the skeletal muscles.
Sea lion 4 was a 180-kg, 160-cm, subadult
male with antibodies against CDV (1:8)
and CPV-2 (1:8). This animal presented
the same pattern of bronchointerstitial
pneumonia found in SASL 3. Escherichia
coli and a nonhemolytic Staphylococcus
1. Antibody titers against selected pathogens in three South American sea lions (Otaria byronia),
Valdivia, Chile, between 2008–10.
Antibody titers
Test performedSea lion 1 Sea lion 2 Sea lion 4
1:8 NR 1:8 Viral seroneutralization
1:64 1:64 1:8 Hemagglutination Inhibition
Leptospira interrogans serovar
1:800 NR NA Microagglutination
L. interrogans serovar Hardjo
NR NR NR Microagglutination
L. interrogans serovar
NR NR NA Microagglutination
L. interrogans serovar Pomona
1:400, 1:800
NR NR Microagglutination
L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni
NR NR NR Microagglutination
L. interrogans serovar Canicola
NR NR NR Microagglutination
Leptospira kirschneri serovar
NR NR NR Microagglutination
Leptospira biflexa serovar Patoc
1:200 1:100 NA Microagglutination
Brucella abortus
NR NR NR Bengal rose
Brucella canis
NR NR NR Plaque agglutination
Brucella sp.
NR NR NR Plaque agglutination
Toxoplasma gondii
NR 1:256 NA Latex agglutination
CDV 5canine distemper virus; CPV-2 5canine parvovirus-2.
NR 5not reactive; NA 5not analyzed.
Tests performed at the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Department Laboratories.
Tests performed in the laboratories of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.
Both titers are shown when results from the two laboratories were different.
sp. were isolated from lung, spleen, and
mesenteric and mediastinal lymph nodes.
Sea lions 1, 2, and 4 had severe
infections with the nematodes Contracae-
cum sp. and Pseudoterranova sp. A few
tapeworms (Diphyllobotrium sp.) were
found in SASLs 1 and 2. Sea lion 3 had
a low number of the trematode Ogmoga-
ster heptalineatus. The only histopa-
thologic change associated with these
parasites was moderate eosinophilic gas-
tritis in animals infected with Contracae-
cum sp. and Pseudoterranova sp.
Although SASLs 1 and 2 died during
anesthesia, postmortem findings indicate
that moderate to severe chronic infections
in the respiratory and renal systems could
have played a role during the anesthesia
(Haulena 2008). Another possibility is an
idiopathic adverse reaction to tiletamine-
zolazepam, a drug combination that has
caused apnea and death in otariids (Dabin
et al. 2002). The most probable cause of
death of SASLs 3 and 4 was pneumonia and
later systemic infection with Gram-positive
and Gram-negative opportunistic bacteria,
one of the most prevalent causes of natural
death in young otariids (Seguel et al. 2011).
Serologic and immunohistochemical find-
ings in SASL 1 and serology in SASL 4
indicate a low reaction to CDV or another
related morbillivirus. In pinnipeds there
have been outbreaks of CDV affecting seals
(Phocidae; Kuiken et al. 2006); however,
we know of no reports of CDV clinical
illness in eared seals (Otariidae). Canine
distemper is a common disease in dogs in
Valdivia (Ernst et al. 1997); thus it is
possible that dogs were the source of
CDV exposure in these SASLs, as has been
suggested in phocids (Kuiken et al. 2006).
In the case of CPV-2, the low antibody
titers (1:8 and 1:64) could represent
previous exposure to or cross-reaction with
an unknown parvovirus.
The serology, histopathology, and im-
munohistochemistry of SASL 1 are indic-
ative of chronic leptospirosis (Gulland
et al. 1996). Clinical leptospirosis is the
second most-common cause of stranding
in California sea lions (Zalophus califor-
nianus) (Greig et al. 2005). To our
1. Kidney photomicrograph from a South American sea lion (Otaria byronia), SASL 1. There are
occasional aggregates of Leptospira sp. spirochetes within a renal tubule (arrow), and occasional macrophages
that surround the affected tubule contain a large amount of partially degraded Leptospira sp. antigen (arrow
head). Immunohistochemistry for Leptospira sp. antigen counterstained with hematoxylin. Bar 525 mm.
knowledge this is the first report of L.
interrogans infection in SASLs.
The presence of T. gondii antibodies
suggests contamination of the river water
with cat feces (Miller et al. 2002). This
would not be surprising given the high (up
to 30%) prevalence of T. gondii in cats in
Valdivia (Ovalle et al. 2000). Toxoplasma
gondii antibody prevalence of up to 40%
has been found in California sea lions, and
there are some reports of encephalitis and
disseminated infection in otariids (re-
viewed in Dubey et al. 2003).
We have shown that SASLs are exposed
to domestic animal shared pathogens
(CDV, CPV-2, T. gondii) and are infected
with agents that can represent zoonotic
risk (L. interrogans,Contracaecum sp.,
Pseudoterranova sp., and Diphyllobotrium
sp.). This highlights the potential use of
marine mammals as animal and human
health sentinels in an urban environment.
We thank L. Huckstad, L. Osman, and
C. Valencia for help during captures.
Technical and financial support was pro-
vided by E. Paredes and J. Saliki. Funding
was provided by the DID-Universidad
Austral de Chile. M.A.S. was funded by a
CONICYT FB 0002 (2014) and a FON-
DECYT no. 3140538. C.V. was funded
by FONDECYT no. 11130305. This work
was conducted with permission from the
subsecretary of Fisheries (SUBPESCA).
Barrow G, Feltham RKA. 2004. Cowan and Steel’s
manual for the identification of medical bacteria.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK,
333 pp.
Carvajal J, Dura
´n LE, George-Nascimento M. 1983.
Ogmogaster heptalineatus n. sp. (Trematoda:
Notocotylidae) from the Chilean sea lion Otaria
flavescens.Syst Parasitol 5:169–173.
Colegrove KM, Lowenstine LJ, Gulland FM. 2005.
Leptospirosis in northern elephant seals (Mir-
ounga angustirostris) stranded along the Cali-
fornia coast. J Wildl Dis 41:426–430.
Dabin W, Beauplet G, Guinet C. 2002. Response of
wild Subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropi-
calis) females to ketamine and tiletamine-zola-
zepam anesthesia. J Wildl Dis 38:846–850.
Dubey JP, Zarnke R, Thomas NJ, Wong SK, Bonn
WV, Briggs M, Davis JW, Ewing R, Mense M,
Kwoka OCH, et al. 2003. Toxoplasma gondii,
Neospora caninum,Sarcocystis neurona, and
Sarcocystis canis-like infections in marine mam-
mals. Vet Parasitol 116:275–296.
Ernst S, Metayer F, Hubert A. 1997. Influencia
de factores clima
´ticos en la variabilidad de la
prevalencia de algunas enfermedades infecciosas
del canino. Arch Med Vet 19:13–19.
Greig DJ, Gulland FM, Kreuder C. 2005. A decade
of live California sea lion (Zalophus california-
nus) strandings along the central California
coast: Causes and trends, 1991–2000. Aquat
Mamm 31:11–22.
Gulland F, Koski M, Lowenstine L, Colagross A,
Morgan L, Spraker T. 1996. Leptospirosis in
California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)
stranded along the central California coast,
1981–1994. J Wildl Dis 32:572–580.
Haulena M. 2008. Otariid seals. In: Zoo animal and
wildlife immobilization and anesthesia, West G,
Heard D, Caulkett N, editors. Blackwell Pub-
lishing Ltd., Oxford, UK, pp. 469–478.
Kuiken T, Kennedy S, Barrett T, van de Bildt M,
Borgsteede F, Brew S, Codd G, Duck C,
Deaville R, Eybatov T. 2006. The 2000 canine
distemper epidemic in Caspian seals (Phoca
caspica): Pathology and analysis of contributory
factors. Vet Pathol 43:321–338.
Mercado R, Yamasaki H, Kato M, Mun
˜oz V, Sagua
H, Torres P, Castillo D. 2010. Molecular
identification of the Diphyllobothrium species
causing diphyllobothriasis in Chilean patients.
Parasitol Res 106:995–1000.
Miller M, Gardner I, Kreuder C, Paradies D,
Worcester K, Jessup D, Dodd E, Harris M,
Ames J, Packham A. 2002. Coastal freshwater
runoff is a risk factor for Toxoplasma gondii
infection of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris
nereis). Int J Parasitol 32:997–1006.
Ovalle F, Garcia A, Thibauth J, Lorca M. 2000.
Frecuencia de anticuerpos anti Toxoplasma
gondii en gatos de la ciudad de Valdivia, Chile.
Bol Chil Parasitol 55:3–4.
Schlatter R. 1976. Penetracio
´n del lobo marino
´n, Otaria flavescens Shaw, en el Rı
Valdivia y afluentes. Medio Ambiente 2:86–90.
Seguel M, Paredes E, Pave
´s H, Molina R, Henrı
F, De Groote F, Schlatter R. 2011. Pathological
findings in South American fur seal pups
(Arctocephalus australis gracilis) found dead at
Guafo Island, Chile. J Comp Pathol 145:308–
Stone B, Blyde D, Saliki J, Blas-Machado U,
Bingham J, Hyatt A, Wang J, Payne J, Crameri
S. 2011. Fatal cetacean morbillivirus infection in
an Australian offshore bottlenose dolphin (Tur-
siops truncatus). Aust Vet J 89:452–457.
Submitted for publication 11 July 2013.
Accepted 3 June 2014.
... Interspecific interactions occur on a daily basis and are decisive for maintenance of diverse endo-and ectoparasite life cycles in this urban colony (Sepúlveda et al., 2015;Hermosilla et al., 2016a;Cornejo-Galaz, 2017;Ebmer et al., 2019). ...
... Most of the previous studies on the endogenous parasite fauna of free-living O. flavescens focused on helminths and were mainly based on single species reports of nematodes (Baylis, 1933;Carrara, 1952;López-Fernández, 1967;Botto and Mañé-Garzón, 1975;Cattan et al., 1976;Cattan and Carvajal, 1980;George-Nascimento and Llanos, 1995;George-Nascimento and Urrutia, 2000;Berón-Vera et al., 2004;Nadler et al., 2013;Timi et al., 2014;Jacobus et al., 2016;Machado-Pereira et al., 2017;González et al., 2018;Pasqualetti et al., 2018), cestodes (Markowski, 1952;Miranda et al., 1968;Cattan et al., 1977;Mondragón-Martínez, 2017), trematodes (Petrov and Chertkova, 1963;Carvajal et al., 1983;Hernández-Orts et al., 2012), and acanthocephalans (Morini and Boero, 1960;Zdzitowiecki, 1986;George-Nascimento and Marin, 1992;Aznar et al., 2006Aznar et al., , 2012Hernández-Orts et al., 2017. Moreover, several large-scale examinations were also published (Baylis, 1934;Holcman-Spector et al., 1977;Carvajal, 1980, 1981;Fernández, 1987;Cabrera et al., 1994;Andrade et al., 1998;Morgades et al., 2006;Pereira, 2012;Hernández-Orts et al., 2013b;Pereira et al., 2013;Calderón-Mayo, 2015;Sepúlveda et al., 2015;Seguel et al., 2018;Naupay et al., 2019) (Table 1). However, the vast majority of these studies were carried out during pathological dissections of stranded animals. ...
... O. heptalineatus belongs to the family Notocotylidae and was firstly described in 1983 from South American sea lions in Chile (Carvajal et al., 1983). Considering the fact that Sepúlveda et al. (2015) already showed the presence of O. heptalineatus within the urban sea lion colony by obtaining adult specimens during dissection of a sea lion carcass, Ogmogaster eggs detected within this study were determined on species level using morphological description (Carvajal et al., 1983). Eggs of O. heptalineatus are characterized by plait-like filaments, which arise from each egg pole and are distinctly shorter when compared with eggs of other marine Ogmogaster species, e.g., O. trilineatus (Rausch and Rice, 1970). ...
Full-text available
Since late 1970s, the southern Chilean city Valdivia constitutes home for a unique bachelor group of South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens), initially descendant from colonies at the Pacific coast, but now directly living in a freshwater habitat in close proximity to human population and a vast amount of wild and domestic animal species. In the framework of a parasitological monitoring program, 115 individual fecal samples were collected from synanthropic South American sea lions between March and May 2018. For comparative reasons, 79 individual fecal samples from two free-living O. flavescens colonies at the Pacific coast were also sampled. Coproscopical analyses revealed the presence of nine different parasite taxa in individual fecal samples, including two protozoan (Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp.) and seven metazoan parasites (Anisakidae gen. spp., Diphyllobothriidae gen. spp., Ogmogaster heptalineatus, Trematoda indet. type 1, Trematoda indet. type 2, Otostrongylus circumlitus, and Parafilaroides spp.), and morphological and molecular characterizations of adult helminths confirmed identification of following species: Anisakis simplex/A. pegreffi, Pseudoterranova cattani, Contracaecum ogmorhini, and Adenocephalus pacificus. For the first time, the results of the current study show the presence of zoonotic relevant Giardia-and Cryptosporidium-infections in two free-ranging colonies of South American sea lions apart from human settlement. Furthermore, a detailed literature search of previous publications on the endoparasite fauna of South American sea lions was conducted, revealing reports of at least 50 protozoan and metazoan parasite taxa including findings of the current study. Thereby, at least 25 of reported taxa (50%) have been recorded to bear zoonotic potential. The Frontiers in Marine Science | 1 October 2020 | Volume 7 | Article 543829 Ebmer et al. Parasitic Infections in Sea Lions present study illustrates a successful application of non-invasive screening methods and their applicability in the field of marine mammal parasitology, bringing new insights into the endogenous parasite fauna of South American sea lions in Southern Chile, including anthropozoonotic protozoan and metazoan taxa.
... Leptospira is a Gram-negative spirochete genus comprising a wide variety of species, serogroups, and serovars causing leptospirosis in warm-blooded animals nearly worldwide as well as in poikilothermic vertebrates (Ellis 2015). In South America and the Southern Hemisphere in general, research about Leptospira diagnosis in pinnipeds is scant with limited samples or serovar surveys (Lynch et al. 2011a, Sepúlveda et al. 2015, Denkinger et al. 2017, Sánchez-Sarmiento et al. 2020. The serological re sponse detected against different serogroups of pathogenic Leptospira in both seal species from Isla de Lobos in Uruguay does not necessarily indicate infection at the time of sampling. ...
... During the CDV epizootic of Lake Baikal (Russia), the probable sources of infection were terrestrial animals, since outbreaks of distemper are common in feral carnivores and domestic dogs around the lake (Mamaev et al. 1996). Diagnoses by serological and molecular methods have already been used in otarids from Chile (Sepúlveda et al. 2015) and Ecuador (Denk inger et al. 2017). The circulation of CDV in the large Uruguayan population of domestic dogs (Panzera et al. 2012) and the close proximity of the pinniped breeding colonies to the inhabited coastal areas are significant risk factors for the transmission of the disease to SAFS and SASL. ...
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.
... Infectious diseases, including those of viral etiology, are recognized as threats to pinnipeds (sea lions and fur seals [family Otariidae], seals [family Phocidae], and walruses [family Odobenidae]) [1], [56]). Nevertheless, little is known about the occurrence of viral agents in South American sea lions, which is limited to the report of cutaneous lesions by poxvirus and adenovirus-associated fatal hepatitis in captive animals from Canada and Japan, respectively, and low antibody titers against parvovirus and morbillivirus in free-ranging animals in Chile ( [58]; [27,52]. To our best knowledge, there are no studies available regarding neither herpesvirus infection nor exposure in South American sea lions. ...
Article available at: In 2017, an adult male South American sea lion (Otaria byronia), presenting emaciation and a cervical abscess, stranded alive in Florianópolis, southern Brazil. The animal was directed to a rehabilitation center, dying a few days later. On necropsy, the main gross fndings were necrotizing lymphadenitis of the right prescapular lymph node and nodular bronchopneumo- nia. A novel alphaherpesvirus, tentatively named Otariid alphaherpesvirus 1, was amplifed in several tissue samples. No histopathologic fndings associated with viral infection were observed. Additionally, pulmonary tuberculosis by Mycobac- terium pinnipedii was diagnosed by histopathological, immunohistochemical, and molecular techniques. Several bacteria were cultured from antemortem and postmortem samples, including Proteus mirabilis from the cervical abscess and cardiac blood, and Escherichia coli from the cervical abscess and pericardial efusion. Flavivirus, morbillivirus, and Apicomplexa were not detected by molecular techniques. Herein, we report a novel alphaherpesvirus in a pinniped species of the family Otariidae. Although previously described in Southern Hemisphere pinniped species, including South American sea lions, there is limited information regarding M. pinnipedii impact over this group. Further research is required to determine the associated pathogenesis of this novel herpesvirus, and prevalence of Otariid alphaherpesvirus 1 and M. pinnipedii in the reproductive colonies.
... Several reports of anti-T. gondii antibodies have been recently identified in Chilean wild mammals, such as southern river otter (Lontra provocax), güiña (Leopardus guigna), American mink (Neovison vison), marine otter (Lontra felina), and southern sea lion (Otaria flavecens) (Sepúlveda et al., 2011(Sepúlveda et al., , 2015Barros et al., 2018;Calvo-Mac et al., 2020). However, the only study on Zoo mammals to date was published 35 years ago (Gorman et al., 1986). ...
Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic cosmopolitan protozoan that causes a high mortality rate among zoo mammals such as New World primates, meerkats, marsupials and Pallas’ cat. It has been recently reported in Chile, mainly among wild populations, but also as the cause of death of a kangaroo and a mara. However, there has not been a T. gondii report at a Zoo population level in Chile in the last 35 years. The aim of the study was to estimate the seroprevalence and risk factors associated with T. gondii infection in mammals housed in a zoo located in the Metropolitan Region of Chile between 2011 and 2018. In this study, we analyzed 350 samples, from 324 animals, belonging to 57 species of carnivores, non-human primates, macropodids, ungulates and rodents to detect the presence of anti-T. gondii antibodies. Additionally, 20 animals were longitudinally sampled to evaluate intra-zoo infection. Using a commercial indirect Enzyme-Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay (ELISA) test, we detected T. gondii antibodies in 72 (22.2 %) samples. The overall seroprevalence estimates were 48.4% in felines, 22.9% in non-feline carnivores, 21.1% in ungulates and 15.0% in non-human primates. There were no positive samples from rodents or marsupials. Of animals sampled longitudinally, only a culpeo fox (Lycalopex cualpaeus) became seropositive along the study indicating exposition inside the facility. T. gondii seroprevalence differed significantly in taxonomic groups (p = 0.003), felines are statistically different from non-feline carnivores (NFC) (p = 0.040), ungulate (p = 0.027) and non-human primates (NHP) (p = 0.009). Annual prevalence comparison was performed showing no statistical difference (p = 0.941). A multivariable logistic regression was performed to ascertain the effect of taxonomic groups, proximity to water sources, diet, sex and type of housing on seropositivity. Only taxonomic group was statistically significant, indicating that NFC (OR = 0.35; 95% CI = 0.15 – 0.83; p = 0.017), ungulates (OR = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.13 – 0.69; p = 0.005), and NHP (OR = 0.25; 95% CI = 0.09 – 0.72; p = 0.010) have lower risk of positivity to T. gondii compared to felines. Additionally, a black-faced spider monkey (Ateles chamek) and a siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) were seropositive, being the first description of T. gondii infection in these species worldwide. As seen in previous studies, the widespread presence and exposure of T. gondii in zoo mammals was confirmed, and there may be contact with the agent and transmission within the zoo, which was confirmed by one animal became seropositive over the time. This fact could be a health problem for animals susceptible to fatal toxoplasmosis.
... The source of infection was not determined but was suspected to be introduced terrestrial mammals. Transmission of CDV to pinnipeds leads to high mortality (Duignan et al. 2014), while leptospirosis is a significant cause of seasonal mortality in otariids from Alaska, US to Chile (Sepúlveda et al. 2015). For a highly gregarious pinniped such as the GSL that inhabits areas close to humans and introduced fauna, there is a high potential for interspecies transmission of novel pathogens and the emergence of disease. ...
Full-text available
During the 2018 breeding season, an outbreak of respiratory disease occurred among Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) that inhabit rookeries near urban areas with introduced fauna such as dogs and cats. Several sea lions had nasal discharge and respiratory distress and were in poor body condition. Eighteen sea lions were captured for a general health assessment including collection of blood for serology and nasal discharge for culture and PCR. Samples were analyzed for 15 respiratory pathogens known to infect cats, dogs, and marine mammals. There was no evidence for interspecies pathogen transmission between Galapagos sea lions and domestic animals. Several bacterial pathogens associated with respiratory tract infection in the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) were isolated. Mycoplasma spp. were identified by PCR in nasal discharge samples but were not the species commonly found in cats and dogs.
... A few studies have documented the presence of Sarcocystis spp. in wild animals in Chile. Presence of cysts of this parasite has been confirmed in muscle tissues of pudu deer (Pudu puda), guanacos (Lama guanicoe) and sea lions (Otaria byronia) [9][10][11]. However, Sarcocystis has not yet been described in Chilean wild birds. ...
Full-text available
Evidence of sarcocystid infection was investigated in samples of 16 penguins (Spheniscus. magellanicus), four Dominican gulls (Larus dominicanus) and two Chilean skuas (Stercorarius chilensis) found in Madalenas Islands, Chile, in 2017. Samples of skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle and brain from all birds were screened by a pan-sarcocystid nested-PCR targeting a short fragment of the gene encoding the small ribosomal unit (nPCR-18Sa). The only two positive samples by nPCR-18Sa, both from skuas, were tested by a nested-PCR directed to the internal transcribed spacer 1 (nPCR-ITS1), also a pan-sarcocystidae nested-PCR, and to a nested-PCR directed to the B1 gene (nPCR-B1), for the exclusive detection of Toxoplasma gondii. The two nPCR-18Sa-positive samples were nPCR-ITS1-positive and nPCR-B1-negative. The nPCR-ITS1 nucleotide sequences from the two skuas, which were identical to each other, were revealed closely related to homologous sequences of Sarcocystis halieti, species found in seabirds of northern hemisphere. Larger fragments of genes encoding 18S and partial sequences of genes coding for cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 were also analyzed, corroborating ITS1 data. The haplotypes found in the skuas are unprecedent and closely related to species that use birds as the definitive host. Further studies need to be carried out to detect, identify and isolate this parasite to understand the epidemiology of the infection and its impact on the health of marine fauna.
... Indeed, new hosts were identified among domestic and wild animals [9,10], including also marine mammals [11][12][13][14][15]. Among marine mammals, Leptospira infection was evidenced in pinnipeds, such as California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) [12,[16][17][18][19][20], Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostiris) [21], Chilean South American sea lions (Otaria byronia) [22], Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) [23] and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) [24,25]. Moreover, signs amenable to leptospirosis and serological positivity were reported in Peruvian Amazon manatees (Trichechus inunguis) [26] and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) [15], while a new Leptospira strain named Manara was isolated from Southern right whale (Eubalena australis) [11]. ...
Full-text available
Environmental resistance is an important factor for understanding the epidemiology of leptospirosis. Recently, new Leptospira hosts were identified, including also marine mammals. Moreover, halotolerant Leptospira strain, isolated from the environment and animals, highlighted the capability of this microorganism to persist in the seawater. The aim of this research was to investigate the bacteriostatic and bactericidal effect of salt on Leptospira strains belonging to 16 different serovars. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) values were verified through the microdilutions method starting from a 20% sodium chloride concentration. MIC values obtained were between 0.3125% and 10% of salt, while MBC values between 0.625% and >20%. Icterohaemorrhagiae (MIC: 0.3125%; MBC: 0.625%) resulted the most inhibited serovar, while the most resistant was Tarassovi (MIC: 10%; MBC: >20%). Interestingly, trends were reported for Pomona (MIC: 1.25%; MBC: >20%) and Bratislava (MIC: 0.625%; MBC: 20%), highlighting low MIC values but high MBC values. This is the first investigation aimed at the in vitro effect of salt on the growth of Leptospira spp. reference strains.
The scarce information on the helminth fauna in otariids from the Southeastern Pacific comes mainly from stranded individuals or killed for that purpose. In this study, we compared the abundance and composition of enteroparasitic assemblages of Otaria flavescens using coprological techniques. Three sampling localities from north to south spanning 2,200 km off the Chilean coast were considered (Iquique, Viña del Mar, and Talcahuano). In all, 60 fecal samples were collected, and eggs belonging to 5 taxa were found in 91.6% of the samples. They were the anisakid nematodes Contracaecum and Pseudoterranova, the cestode Adenocephalus (syn. Diphyllobothrium), the trematode Ogmogaster, and the acanthocephalan Corynosoma. Samples from southern Chile (Talcahuano) showed the highest prevalence. Adenocephalus eggs had the highest prevalence and abundance in Iquique and Talcahuano, whereas Ogmogaster was the less prevalent and abundant in all sampling localities. Corynosoma eggs had similar prevalence and abundance among sampling localities, and Pseudoterranova eggs were absent in Iquique and with median prevalence values in Viña del Mar and Talcahuano. Thus, the composition of parasite egg assemblages was different between sampling localities. These differences between sampling localities may help to explain differential records of some zoonotic parasitoses such as pseudoterranovosis and diphyllobothriosis in Peru and Chile, where consumption of raw or marinated fish (ceviche) is common. For example, the lower diversity of parasite egg assemblages in the northern Chilean coast may be due to the absence or lower abundance of first intermediate/paratenic hosts of Pseudoterranova.
Full-text available
Los mamíferos marinos (MM) son componentes clave de los ecosistemas marinos constituyéndose en importantes depredadores en ellos. Su monitoreo permite conocer el estado de sus poblaciones y la salud del ecosistema. Por esta razón, se determinará la diversidad, abundancia y distribución espacial y temporal de MM del centro-sur de Chile. Observadores científicos registraron presencia estacional de MM a lo largo de un año desde plataformas en tierra y mar (invierno-2016 a otoño-2017). Se identificaron 4 especies de MM con un total de ~12.000 avistamientos. La especie más frecuente fue el león marino (LMC, ~99%), luego el delfín chileno (DCh) y registros aislados de ballena franca austral y ballena azul. Los mayores avistamientos del LMC y cetáceos mayores se registraron en verano, mientras para DCh, fue en otoño. En Cobquecura se concentraron los mayores avistamientos de LMC (>80%). Los cetáceos mayores se avistaron a >1.500m de la costa y los DCh a <500m, entorno al río Itata. En el mar, los mayores avistamientos de LMC se registraron en primavera, durante el periodo de actividad pesquera, al igual que el mayor registro de lobos muertos. Pese a que la cantidad de MM identificados aquí, no es mayor a lo descrito para otras partes de Chile, se debe considerar que tres de estas especies están clasificadas bajo algún criterio de amenaza. Además, existe una de las más importantes agrupaciones de DCh y LMC del centro-sur de Chile, expuestas a importantes interacciones operacionales con la pesquería. Esto hace necesario establecer con prontitud medidas de protección del litoral para asegurar la conservación de estos mamíferos marinos en el centro-sur de Chile y con ello, en toda la costa chilena.
Full-text available
Fatty acids have been widely used as trophic biomarkers in marine mammals. However, for the South American sea lion, the most abundant otariid in the eastern South Pacific, there is no information about blubber fatty acids and their link to diet. Here, we compare fatty acid profiles of sea lions from two distinct oceanographic regions in northern and southern Chile. Their fatty acids vary greatly between regions, suggesting dietary differences at a spatial scale. The fatty acid C22:6ω3 was more abundant in sea lions from the northern region, likely associated with consumption of anchovy, cephalopods, and crustaceans, which are rich in that fatty acid, and have been reported as their main prey items. Sea lions from the southern region were richer in C22:1 and C20:1, characteristic of teleost fish, suggesting a piscivorous diet. Males displayed a more diverse fatty acid composition than females, suggesting a wider trophic niche. Few individual sea lions within the southern region had unusually high levels of C18:2ω6, commonly found in terrestrial environments. This suggests consumption of farmed salmon, whose diet is usually based on terrestrial sources. This demonstrates how human intervention is being reflected in the tissues of a top predator in a natural environment.
Full-text available
Stranded marine mammals offer a unique sample of relatively inaccessible wild animals that are more likely to represent the diseased segment of the population and are easy to examine thoroughly. Examination of these animals, therefore, offers a method to detect novel diseases in free-living aquatic mammals. Diseases in marine mammals may reflect environmental changes such as ocean pollution, prey shifts, and global warming. To detect spatial and temporal trends in prevalence of such diseases, we reviewed records for 3,707 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) that stranded live between 1991 and 2000 along the central California coast. Reasons for stranding were determined from a combination of clinical examinations, hematology and serum biochemistry , radiography, gross necropsy, histopathology, microbiology, and biotoxin assays. Over the ten years, 74% of sea lions stranded in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, and 83% of these were admitted between May and October each year. Malnutrition was the most common reason for stranding (32%), followed by leptospi-rosis (27%), trauma (18%), domoic acid intoxication (9%), and cancer (3%). Strandings caused by malnutrition were greatest during the El Niño events of 1992, 1993, and 1998, while strandings caused by leptospirosis accounted for over 60% of strandings in 1991, 1995, and 1999. Although domoic acid was first reported in California sea lions in 1998, there was a small stranding event in 1992 that, based on clinical examinations and his-topathology, was probably also caused by domoic acid. The observed prevalence of cancer among stranded animals remained constant over the past ten years at 3%.
Full-text available
Ogmogaster heptalineatus n.sp. is described from the Chilean sea lion Otaria flavescens. Distinct characteristics of the species are: presence of 7 longitudinal ridges on the ventral surface, cirrus armed with scales, testes and ovary deeply lobed and eggs circular with short polar filaments. This is the first report of the genus Ogmogaster from South America and the first report of Otaria flavescens as a host for this genus. ac]19820320
Full-text available
During four breeding seasons (2004-2008), 78 necropsy examinations were performed on South American fur seal pups (Arctocephalus australis gracilis) found dead on Guafo Island, southern Chile (43°36'S, 74°43'W). Tissue samples from 65 pups were examined microscopically. The primary causes of death were enteritis with microscopical lesions of bacteraemia (28.2%), starvation (23.1%), drowning (21.8%), trauma (19.2%) and stillbirth (2.6%). Those pups with enteritis and microscopical lesions of bacteraemia had haemorrhagic enteritis (100%), interstitial pneumonia (86%), periportal hepatitis (73%) and vasculitis (18%). The pups that died from starvation had atrophy of hepatocytes (61%) and cholestasis (61%). The pups that drowned had bronchoalveolar oedema (65%) and foreign bodies in the airways (65%). In animals that died from trauma, the main lesions were skull fractures (67%). This range of pathological findings is within what would be expected in a healthy otariid breeding colony.
Full-text available
Diphyllobothriasis caused by the infection of adult Diphyllobothrium tapeworms sporadically occurs in Chile. The occurrence of the disease is closely linked to the consumption of raw or undercooked freshwater and marine fishes. Diagnosis of diphyllobothriasis has been based on laboratory examinations of the morphological characteristics of proglottids and eggs passed in the feces. Although determination of the parasite to the species level is possible through histologic examination of proglottid specimens, the parasites of patients who only discharge eggs cannot be diagnosed to the species level. Determining the species responsible for the infection of humans and other animals in affected areas is an important component of understanding the epidemiologic and enzootic characteristics of any infectious disease. We therefore compared the classification results obtained using a molecular approach with those obtained from morphological and histopathological examination of proglottids or eggs from five Chilean individuals with diphyllobothriasis. DNA analysis confirmed that the causative Diphyllobothrium species in Chile were first identified as Diphyllobothrium latum and Diphyllobothrium pacificum at least. Furthermore, mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene analysis also supported the hypothesis that D. latum from Chile originated from Europe.
Full-text available
Prevalence of leptospirosis was determined in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) stranded live along the central California (USA) coast between January 1981 and December 1994. Clinical signs of renal disease were seen in 764 (33%) of 2338 animals examined; 545 (71%) of these 764 animals died, with similar gross lesions of nephritis. In silver impregnation stains of sections of formalin-fixed kidney, numerous loosely coiled spiral organisms were observed. Leptospira pomona kenniwicki was cultured from four kidney samples in 1991. Epizootics of leptospirosis occurred in 1984, 1988, 1991, and 1994, and were more common in the autumn, typically affecting juvenile males. In 1991 and 1994, 47 animals sampled had antibody titers to L. pomona greater than 1:3200. In 1992, 20 animals sampled were seronegative, and in 1993 three of 20 animals sampled had low titers to L. pomona.
Introduction Physiology and Anatomy Restraint Techniques Drug Delivery Monitoring Analgesia Sedatives Local Anesthetics Immobilizing Drugs Opioids Dissociative Anesthetics Barbiturates α-2 Adrenergic Agonists Other Injectable Agents Inhalant Anesthesia Anesthetic Protocols References
A juvenile offshore bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was found stranded with neurological signs and unable to swim or float unassisted. It subsequently died, succumbing to a combination of severe pneumonia and encephalitis. Morbillivirus serum neutralisation test serology was positive (titre 1:16) for cetacean morbillivirus and negative for both phocine distemper virus and canine distemper virus. There was concurrent thymic and lymph node lymphoid depletion and necrosis, together with intranuclear and intracytoplasmic acidophilic viral inclusion bodies and multinucleate syncytia within multiple organs. Paramyxovirus capsids were identified in lung sections via electron microscopy and morbillivirus antigen was demonstrated within sections of lung, thymus and brain by immunohistochemistry. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for morbillivirus nucleoprotein (N) and phosphoprotein (P) genes were positive and phylogenetic gene product sequence analysis revealed 98% and 94% sequence identity to dolphin morbillivirus, respectively. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a cetacean mortality due to morbillivirus infection occurring in the southern hemisphere. Morbillivirus infection should be included in the differential diagnosis of stranded live or dead cetaceans in Australian waters, particularly if animals display neurological signs.