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Central nervous System Pathology in Infectious Diseases of Cetaceans Stranded on the Catalan Mediterranean Sea (1990–2013)

February 17, 2014

Introduction: Since the onset of the first cetacean morbilivirus (CeMV) epidemic (1990–1992), post-mortem studies have been performed on stranded cetaceans found on the Catalan Mediterranean Sea. Relevant lesions have been frequently found in the central nervous system (CNS), mostly associated with infectious agents.

Materials and Methods: Post-mortem studies were carried out on three different cetacean species (Stenella coeruleoalba, Tursiops truncatus and Grampus griseus), including gross and histopathological examination of the CNS, immunohistochemistry for CeMV and, in selected cases, microbiological studies.

Results: The main finding in the CNS was CeMV-associated non-suppurative encephalitis. Granulomatous to necrotizing encephalitis, due to active toxoplasmosis or aspergillosis was found in association with systemic CeMV infections. Primary encephalitis due to Toxoplasma gondii was also seen occasionally. Sporadic cases of suppurative encephalitis due to Nocardia spp. and Porphyromonas asaccharolytica also occurred. Recently, the first case of severe non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis due to Brucella ceti and the first description of pyogranulomatous and necrotizing meningoencephalomyelitis associated with Cuningamella bertholletiae were recognized.

Conclusions: Post-mortem studies have been essential to reveal CNS infections as an important cause of cetacean stranding in the Catalan Mediterranean Sea. CeMV-associated encephalitis was the main finding to date.

Isidoro M, Soto S, Pérez L, Cabañes X, Domingo M, 2014: Central nervous System Pathology in Infectious Diseases of Cetaceans Stranded on the Catalan Mediterranean Sea (1990–2013), Journal of Comparative Pathology, 150(1), 83, doi: 10.1016/j.jcpa.2013.11.032. Article.

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