Brucellosis, a worldwide zoonosis, is linked to reproductive problems in primary hosts. A high proportion of Brucella-positive hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) have been detected in the declined Northeast Atlantic stock. High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have also been discovered in top predators in the Arctic, including the hooded seal, PCB 153 being most abundant. The aim of this study was to assess the pathogenicity of Brucella pinnipedialis hooded seal strain in the mouse model and to evaluate the outcome of Brucella spp. infection after exposure of mice to PCB 153. BALB/c mice were infected with B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain or Brucella suis 1330, and half from each group was exposed to PCB 153 through the diet. B. pinnipedialis showed a reduced pathogenicity in the mouse model as compared to B. suis 1330. Exposure to PCB 153 affected neither the immunological parameters, nor the outcome of the infection. Altogether this indicates that it is unlikely that B. pinnipedialis contribute to the decline of hooded seals in the Northeast Atlantic.
Environmental samples collected along the coastline and from the interior of Alaska were examined for the presence of Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum type E was detected in soils from 5 of 12 beaches; in 7 of 115 non-coastal soil samples; in sediments from six of eight locales; in gills of salmon from two fishing areas; and in the feces of 1 of 44 colonic samples from marine mammals. The basic biochemical characteristics of the isolates were determined. Tube tests for demonstrating gelatin liquefaction proved insensitive with these strains, whereas a plate test detected gelatinase in all isolates. The presence of multiple nidi and the continual discharge of organic materials into the environment may contribute to the perpetuation of botulinum spores by which foods prepared form marine animals become contaminated. An emphasis should be placed upon the need for measures to reduce environmental contamination, to reduce contamination during food preparation, and to alert continually the population of the hazard wherever botulism is endemic.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 1847.
Investigations for Brucella-infections were conducted in 29 hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) caught between Svalbard and Greenland (North Atlantic Ocean; Greenland Sea) autumn 2002, and from 20 ringed seals (Phoca hispida) caught in Billefjord, Svalbard, spring 2003. All animals were apparently healthy and were caught in their natural habitat. Bacteriology on tissue samples from ringed seals was negative, whereas Brucella sp. were recovered in tissues from 11 of the 29 hooded seals (38%), with the highest tissue prevalence in spleen (9/29) and lung lymph nodes (9/24). Anti-Brucella antibodies were detected in sera from 9 hooded seals (31%) (EDTA-modified Slow Agglutination test of Wright, Rose Bengal test, Complement Fixation Test, and Protein-A ELISA). The bacterial isolates all belonged to the genus Brucella according to classical biotyping and PCR analysis based on Insertion Sequence IS711, and were shown to be typical marine mammal strains, based on the occurrence of an IS711 element downstream of the bp26 gene. Their dependency on CO2 for growth, and the presence of one copy each of the omp2a and omp2b gene finally classified them as Brucella pinnipediae. Furthermore, all the hooded seal isolates showed an A+ M+ agglutination profile, which is different from the profile of reference seal strain 2/94 (harbour seal, Phoca vitulina). Thus, these results indicate that B. pinnipediae may contain different biovars. The present results suggest that infection with B. pinnipediae is enzootic in this population. Since the hooded seal is commercially hunted and consumed in Norway, the pathological impact of such infections and their zoonotic potential should be further addressed.
Seal finger is an unusual infection in Denmark but is seen quite often in Greenland. A 69 year-old Danish man developed severe infection after cutting his finger on a sea urchin while handling a fishing net. Treatment with beta-lactam antibiotics had no effect. Standard culture from the lesion was negative. A Mycoplasma species was detected by PCR and DNA sequencing and subsequently cultured on special media. Specifically asked about exposure to sea mammals the patient could inform that a dead seal had also been trapped in the fishing net.
Zoonotic infections transmitted from marine mammals to humans in the Baltic and European Arctic are of unknown significance, despite given considerable potential for transmission due to local hunt. Here we present results of an initial screening for Brucella spp. in Arctic and Baltic seal species. Baltic ringed seals (Pusa hispida, n?=?12) sampled in October 2015 and Greenland Sea harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus, n?=?6) and hooded seals (Cystophora cristata, n?=?3) sampled in March 2015 were serologically analysed for antibodies against Brucella spp. The serological analyses were performed using the Rose Bengal Test (RBT) followed by a confirmatory testing of RBT-positive samples by a competitive-enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (C-ELISA). Two of the Baltic ringed seals (a juvenile male and a juvenile female) were seropositive thus indicating previous exposure to a Brucella spp. The findings indicate that ringed seals in the Baltic ecosystem may be exposed to and possibly infected by Brucella spp. No seropositive individuals were detected among the Greenland harp and hooded seals. Although our initial screening shows a zoonotic hazard to Baltic locals, a more in-depth epidemiological investigation is needed in order to determine the human risk associated with this.
: Streptococcus phocae is a pathogen of marine mammals, although its pathogenicity remains poorly understood. Recovery of this bacterium from asymptomatic carriers suggests that it is an opportunistic pathogen. We investigated the role of S. phocae in naturally occurring disease and its significance as a pathogen based on postmortem investigations. Between 2007 and 2012, 1,696 whole carcasses, tissue samples, or both were submitted from the northeastern Pacific and Arctic Canada for diagnostic testing. Streptococcus phocae was cultured from phocids ( n=66), otariids ( n=12), harbor porpoises ( Phocoena phocoena; n=5), and sea otters ( Enhydra lutris; n=2). Pathologic manifestations of S. phocae-associated disease included localized, as well as systemic, inflammatory lesions with common findings of suppurative bronchopneumonia ( n=17) and bacteremia ( n=27). Lung lesions were frequently culture-positive for S. phocae, suggesting commensal colonization of the oropharynx with subsequent opportunistic infection of the respiratory tract during tissue injury, coinfection, immunosuppression, or other debilitating conditions. The presence of a positive spleen culture, and interpretations at necropsy and histopathology, were used to determine the presence of S. phocae bacteremia. Less frequent lesions that were culture positive for S. phocae included abscesses ( n=9), meningitis ( n=7), and cellulitis ( n=1). The majority of cases with S. phocae lesions featured pre-existing conditions that presumably contributed to some degree of debilitation or immunosuppression, including emaciation ( n=29), liver mercury accumulation ( n=29), trauma ( n=22), severe pulmonary or cardiovascular nematodiasis ( n=9), concurrent bacterial or viral infections ( n=8), or sarcocystosis ( n=6). These findings suggest that S. phocae could be characterized as an opportunistic pathogen, associated with debilitating conditions in stranded and rehabilitating marine mammals. Wildlife investigators can use these results to draw more definitive conclusions regarding positive S. phocae cultures during postmortem studies in marine mammals.