Histoplasmosis of local origin has not been reported in humans or wildlife in Alaska, and the disease has never been reported in a free-ranging marine mammal. In 2005 a northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) was found on Kodiak Island, Alaska, at 57° latitude north, far outside the known distribution of Histoplasma capsulatum. The animal died of disseminated histoplasmosis. Microorganisms consistent with Histoplasma sp. were observed on histopathology, and H. capsulatum was identified by PCR and sequencing. We suggest migratory seabirds or aerosol transmission through prevailing winds may have resulted in transmission to the sea otter.
Infection with Brucella spp., long known as a cause of abortion, infertility, and reproductive loss in domestic livestock, has increasingly been documented in marine mammals over the past two decades. We report molecular evidence of Brucella infection in Asian sea otters (Enhydra lutris lutris). Brucella DNA was detected in 3 of 78 (4%) rectal swab samples collected between 2004 and 2006 on Bering Island, Russia. These 78 animals had previously been documented to have a Brucella seroprevalence of 28%, markedly higher than the prevalence documented in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in North America. All of the DNA sequences amplified were identical to one or more previously isolated Brucella spp. including strains from both terrestrial and marine hosts. Phylogenetic analysis of this sequence suggested that one animal was shedding Brucella spp. DNA with a sequence matching a Brucella abortus strain, whereas two animals yielded a sequence matching a group of strains including isolates classified as Brucella pinnipedialis and Brucella melitensis. Our results highlight the diversity of Brucella spp. within a single sea otter population.
Using museum data of adult specimens whose sex, age, and locality are known, we studied temporal and geographical body size trends among the otter, Lutra lutra, in Norway. We found that body size of the otters increased during the last quarter of the twentieth century, and suggest that this trend is related to increased food availability from fish farming and possibly also to energy saving due to elevated sea temperatures. Birth year and death year explained 38.8 and 43.5%, respectively, of the variation in body size. Body size of otters was positively related to latitude, thus conforming to Bergmann's rule.
During the spring of 1951, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertook the removal of sea otter, Enhydra lutris (L.), from the Aleutian Island of Amchitka, for the purpose of restocking range from which the animals have long been exterminated. The decision to undertake this activity was influenced by the nature of military operations planned for the island later the same year. The capture and removal of the otter were under the supervision of Mr. Robert D. Jones, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Heavy losses among the animals shortly after capture made the venture unsuccessful. Many deaths were concurrent among animals in the wild state. The writer was asked to investigate the causes of disease in the sea otter, and it is the purpose of this paper to report the results of these investigations.
The crest animal embodies all that man controls; it is the visual symbol of the social order. Animals of the supernatural domain, the yek controlled by shamans, differ considerably from crest animals. The Tlingit shaman encounters the yek animal on his vision quest, transforms into it during his masking ritual, and interacts continually with it.
Reference book found in Alaskana Collection: E99.T6 J65 1986
Species of Cryptosporidium and Giardia can infect humans and wildlife and have the potential to be transmitted between these 2 groups; yet, very little is known about these protozoans in marine wildlife. Feces of river otters (Lontra canadensis), a common marine wildlife species in the Puget Sound Georgia Basin, were examined for species of Cryptosporidium and Giardia to determine their role in the epidemiology of these pathogens. Using ZnSO4 flotation and immunomagnetic separation, followed by direct immunofluorescent antibody detection (IMS/DFA), we identified Cryptosporidium sp. oocysts in 9 fecal samples from 6 locations and Giardia sp. cysts in 11 fecal samples from 7 locations. The putative risk factors of proximate human population and degree of anthropogenic shoreline modification were not associated with the detection of Cryptosporidium or Giardia spp. in river otter feces. Amplification of DNA from the IMS/DFA slide scrapings was successful for 1 sample containing > 500 Cryptosporidium sp. oocysts. Sequences from the Cryptosporidium 18S rRNA and the COWP loci were most similar to the ferret Cryptosporidium sp. genotype. River otters could serve as reservoirs for Cryptosporidium and Giardia species in marine ecosystems. More work is needed to better understand the zoonotic potential of the genotypes they carry as well as their implications for river otter health.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been detected in abiotic and biotic matrices worldwide, including the Arctic Ocean. Considering these chemicals' persistent and bioaccumulative potentials, it was expected that levels of PFCs, like those of many legacy organic pollutants, would respond slowly to the restrictions in production and usage. Temporal trend studies in remote areas, such as the Arctic, can help determine the chronology of contamination and the response of the environment to regulations on PFCs. Prior to this study, temporal trends of PFCs in Alaskan coastal waters had not been examined. In the present study, concentrations of six PFCs were determined in livers of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) collected from three areas in south-central Alaska (Prince William Sound, n = 36; Resurrection Bay, n = 7; Kachemak Bay, n = 34) from 1992 to 2007. Additionally, previously published profiles and concentrations of PFCs in southern sea otters from California and Asian sea otters from Kamchatka (Russia) were compared to our new data, to determine the geographical differences in PFC profiles among these three regions in the Pacific Ocean. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) were the predominant PFCs found in the livers of northern sea otters from 1992 to 2007. Other PFCs, such as perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA), and perfluorodecanoate (PFDA), were detected less frequently, and at low concentrations. Overall, from 2001 to 2007, a decrease in concentrations of PFOS was found in northern sea otters, suggesting an immediate response to the phase-out in 2000 of perfluorooctanesulfonyl-based compounds by a major producer in the United States. In contrast, concentrations of PFNA in northern sea otters increased by 10-fold from 2004 to 2007. These results indicate that the contribution by PFNA to SigmaPFC concentrations is increasing in northern sea otters. The profiles (i.e., composition of individual PFC to SigmaPFC concentration) of PFCs in northern sea otters from Alaska were similar to those reported for southern sea otters from California, but were considerably different from the profiles reported for Asian sea otters from Russia, suggesting differences in point sources of exposure.
Since 2002, an increased number of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from southcentral Alaska have been reported to be dying due to endocarditis and/or septicemia with infection by Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli. Bartonella spp. DNA was also detected in northern sea otters as part of mortality investigations during this unusual mortality event (UME) in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. To evaluate the extent of exposure to Bartonella spp. in sea otters, sera collected from necropsied and live-captured northern sea otters, as well as necropsied southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) unaffected by the UME, were analyzed using an immunofluorescent antibody assay. Antibodies against Bartonella spp. were detected in sera from 50% of necropsied and 34% of presumed healthy, live-captured northern sea otters and in 16% of necropsied southern sea otters. The majority of sea otters with reactive sera were seropositive for B. washoensis, with antibody titers ranging from 1:64 to 1:256. Bartonella spp. antibodies were especially common in adult northern sea otters, both free-living (49%) and necropsied (62%). Adult stranded northern sea otters that died from infectious causes, such as opportunistic bacterial infections, were 27 times more likely to be Bartonella seropositive than adult stranded northern sea otters that died from noninfectious causes (p
University of California, Davis, Wildlife Health Center, Orcas Island Office, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, 1016 Deer Harbor Road, Eastsound, Washington 98245, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The investigation of diseases of free-ranging river otters (Lontra canadensis) is a primary conservation priority for this species; however, very little is known about diseases of river otters that forage in marine environments. To identify and better understand pathogens that could be important to marine-foraging river otters, other wildlife species, domestic animals, and humans and to determine if proximity to human population could be a factor in disease exposure, serum samples from 55 free-ranging marine-foraging river otters were tested for antibodies to selected pathogens. Thirty-five animals were captured in Prince William Sound, Alaska (USA), an area of low human density, and 20 were captured in the San Juan Islands, Washington State (USA), an area characterized by higher human density. Of 40 river otters tested by indirect immunofluorescent antibody test, 17.5% were seropositive (titer > or =320) for Toxoplasma gondii. All positive animals came from Washington. Of 35 river otters tested for antibodies to Leptospira interrogans using the microscopic agglutination test, 10 of 20 (50%) from Washington were seropositive (titer > or =200). None of the 15 tested animals from Alaska were positive. Antibodies to Neospora caninum (n=40), Sarcocystis neurona (n=40), Brucella abortus (n=55), avian influenza (n=40), canine distemper virus (n=55), phocine distemper virus (n=55), dolphin morbillivirus (n=55), porpoise morbillivirus (n=55), and Aleutian disease parvovirus (n=46) were not detected. Identifying exposure to T. gondii and L. interrogans in otters from Washington State but not in otters from Alaska suggests that living proximal to higher human density and its associated agricultural activities, domestic animals, and rodent populations could enhance river otter exposure to these pathogens.