[MARMAM] New disease paper in Salish Sea harbor porpoises (Washington State, USA)

Stephanie Norman stephanie at marine-med.com
Thu Aug 4 19:38:33 PDT 2022

Hello colleagues

On behalf of my co-authors and me, we would like to share with you details
on our recent publication:

Norman SA, Huggins JL, Lambourn DM, Rhodes LD, Garner MM, Bolton JL, Gaydos
JK, Scott A, Raverty S and Calambokidis J (2022) Risk factor determination
and qualitative risk assessment of Mucormycosis in Harbor Porpoise, an
emergent fungal disease in Salish Sea marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci.
9:962857. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.962857


Mucorales infections are increasing in frequency and are a One Health
pathogen of concern. In humans and domestic animals, risk factors include
being immunocompromised, elevated circulating serum iron, contaminated open
wounds, or metabolic diseases such as ketoacidosis or uncontrolled
diabetes. Mucormycosis was first identified in 2012 in Pacific Northwest
marine mammals, predominantly in harbor porpoises. We performed an
assessment to determine the overall qualitative risk, or risk score, of
mucormycosis in harbor porpoises. Risk factors for this disease are unknown
in aquatic mammals. In a separate risk factor analysis, potential risk
factors such as pollutants, trace metals (e.g., iron), and co-infection
with other pathogens (e.g., viruses and Brucella spp.) were examined in
mucormycosis cases and noncases using a matched case-control study design,
to determine the presence and strength of association of these factors with
mucormycosis. Disease severity (gross and histopathology) and exposure
scores were multiplied together to obtain the overall risk scores of 9 -16
which corresponded to moderate and severe, respectively. In the risk factor
analysis, the factors most strongly associated with a mucormycosis case,
relative to a control, were elevated liver iron, decreased blubber
thickness, and the decreased ratio of the sum of PCB congeners/sum of PBDE
congeners. The results of this study suggest that mucormycosis may pose an
inordinately high risk to harbor porpoises (and potentially sympatric
species in the Salish Sea such as southern resident killer whales) based on
the detected prevalence and the severity of lesions observed at necropsy.
However, the risk may be greater on an individual basis compared to the
overall population, and is likely related to other factors such as
increased POP and heavy metal burdens.

The full article is Open Access and can be downloaded from:


Thank you,

Stephanie A. Norman, DVM, MS, PhD
Marine-Med: Marine Research, Epidemiology, and Veterinary Medicine
E-mail: stephanie at marine-med.com
Phone: 206-321-0249
Marine-Med website <https://www.marine-med.com/> | Facebook
<https://www.facebook.com/MarineMed1> | Twitter
<https://twitter.com/whaledocsteph> | LinkedIn
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