[MARMAM] New Publication: Exposure of Scottish harbour seals to Brucella

Joanna Kershaw jk49 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Mon Sep 25 04:37:29 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that the following paper has been published in
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms:  Exposure of harbour seals (*Phoca vitulina)*
 to *Brucella* in declining populations across Scotland.

Kershaw JL, Stubberfield EJ, Foster G, Brownlow A, Hall AJ, Perrett LL
(2017) Exposure of harbour seals *Phoca vitulina* to *Brucella* in
declining populations across Scotland. Dis Aquat Org 126:13-23.

Abstract: Since 2000 there have been major declines in the abundance of
Scottish harbour seals (*Phoca vitulina*). The causes of the declines
remain uncertain. The aim of this study was to establish the extent to
which the seals in the regions of greatest decline have been exposed to
*Brucella, *a bacterial pathogen that causes reproductive failure in
terrestrial mammalian hosts. Tissues from dead seals collected between 1992
and 2013 were cultured for *Brucella* (n=150). Serum samples collected from
live capture-released seals (n=343) between 1997 and 2012 were tested for
*Brucella* antibodies using the Rose Bengal plate agglutination test (RBT)
and a competitive Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). 16% of seals
cultured had *Brucella *isolated from one or more tissues but there were no
pathological signs of infection. The cELISA results were more sensitive
than the RBT results showing that overall, 25.4% of seals were seropositive
with the highest seroprevalence in juveniles. As there was no evidence of
either a higher seroprevalence, or higher circulating antibody levels in
seropositive animals in the areas with the greatest declines, it was
concluded that *Brucella* infection is likely not a major contributing
factor to recent declines. However, the consistently high proportion of
seals exposed to *Brucella* indicates possible endemicity in these
populations, likely due to *Brucella pinnipedialis*, which has demonstrated
a preference for pinniped hosts. Importantly, given the close proximity
between seals, humans and livestock in many areas, there is the potential
for cross-species infections.

A PDF copy of the paper can be downloaded from: http://www.int-res.com/a

Best wishes,

Joanna Kershaw

Joanna Kershaw

Sea Mammal Research Unit
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
KY16 8LB

Twitter: @_SMRU_

The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland : No
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