Serological Evidence of Exposure to Selected Viral, Bacterial, and Protozoal Pathogens in Free-Ranging Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina

Abstract: Sera from free-ranging Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida (IRL) (n = 122), and the estuarine waters near Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) (n = 82) were collected from 2003 to 2007 and analyzed for antibodies to several bacterial and viral pathogens. Serological evidence of exposure to Chlamydophila psittaci; Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses; and West Nile virus represents the first reports of these pathogens in cetacean populations. Antibodies to Eastern and Venezualan encephalitis viruses and to West Nile virus were detected only in IRL dolphins. Positive titers to Toxoplasma gondii and Brucella abortus (rivanol and card tests) were identified in dolphins from both locations. The prevalence of antibodies to Brucella spp. on the card test was significantly higher in bottlenose dolphins sampled in the IRL compared to the CHS location. This study establishes baseline seroprevalence for several zoonotic pathogens in these two populations.

Key Words: Tursiops truncatus, Chlamydophila psittaci, West Nile virus, equine encephalitis, Toxoplasma gondii, Brucella spp., viral pathogens, bacterial pathogens, zoonoses

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.35.2.2009.163

Page Numbers: 163-170

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