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Abstract: The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is classified as a ‘Vulnerable’ species by the International Union for the Conservation Nature and Natural Resources and is critically threatened in Brazil as a result of accidental and intentional take by humans. Infectious diseases in manatees have been reported in the scientific literature yet little is known about their inhabitants. We characterized the bacterial and fungal flora of the upper respiratory tract of eight captive Antillean manatees from two facilities in Brazil by quantifying and identifying the micro-organisms from nasal swabs. We also identified the bacteria found in the water of the facility. One group of four animals was in closed pools while the other group of two was in an open-water built into an estuary. Gram-negative bacteria, especially Escherichia coli, Enterobacter sakasakii, Providencia rettgeri and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, predominated in manatee nasal cultures. Bacterial counts were higher in closed pools, with members of the Enterobacteriaceae prevailing (e.g., Escherichia coli, Citrobacter amaloniticus, Enterobacter sakasakii, and others). The prominent bacterial group founded in open-water was the nonfermentative Gram-negative bacilli (Acinetobacter baumanni and Moraxella sp.). No fungi were isolated, either in the water or the animals. The open-water facility, which possess a system of constant water renewal presented a low number of bacteria in the water samples, showed was better suited for the maintenance of the manatees in terms of water quality.
Key Words: TRICHECHUS MANATUS MANATUS; ANTILLEAN MANATEE; BRAZIL; CAPTIVITY; BACTERIA AND FUNGI; ESCHERICHIA; ENTEROBACTER; PROVIDENCIA; CITROBACTER
Document Type: Research article