A novel non‐invasive tool for disease surveillance of free‐ranging whales and its relevance to conservation programs

  title={A novel non‐invasive tool for disease surveillance of free‐ranging whales and its relevance to conservation programs},
  author={Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and A. Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron},
  journal={Animal Conservation},
The numbers of potentially pathogenic microorganisms that have been isolated from stranded cetaceans in the last three decades underscore the urgent need for methods of detection of microorganisms that might cause significant disease and increase the likelihood of population declines. We have designed and implemented two non‐invasive techniques for the collection of exhaled breath condensate (blow) from free‐ranging whales and demonstrated their suitability for the detection of respiratory… 

Detecting respiratory bacterial communities of wild dolphins: implications for animal health

This study successfully characterised bacteria from DNA captured in blow from wild dolphins, indicating the ability to capture these communities from individuals in the wild provides a novel health indicator.

Helminth Load in Feces of Free-Ranging Blue and Fin Whales from the Gulf of California

All individual blue whales that migrate to the Gulf of California during winter are permanently parasitized with helminths, while the resident fin whales showed lower prevalence and intensity.

Temporal stability and species specificity in bacteria associated with the bottlenose dolphins respiratory system.

It is demonstrated that the exhaled breath condensate, or 'blow', from marine mammals can be used to examine respiratory associated microbial communities using non-invasive sampling methods, and clear overlap was observed with data collected by capture and swabbing of bottlenose dolphins blowholes, indicating this method provides a novel non- invasive alternative to monitoring marine mammal population health.

Isolation of culturable aerobic bacteria and evidence of Kerstersia gyiorum from the blowhole of captive Yangtze finless porpoises

The necessity of future long-term monitoring of blowhole microorganisms in the YFPs and making emergency preparedness plans for respiratory tract infections can aid in assessing the pathogenic risk of the critically endangered YFP populations is pointed out.

Clonally Related Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolated from Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), Human Volunteers, and a Bayfront Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility

The notion that S. aureus may be shed into an environment by humans or pilot whales and subsequently colonize or infect exposed new hosts is supported.

Extensive Core Microbiome in Drone-Captured Whale Blow Supports a Framework for Health Monitoring

The first extensive examination of the large-whale blow microbiome presents surprising results about the discovery of a large core microbiome that was shared across individual whales from geographically separated populations in two ocean basins, and suggests that this core microbiome assemblage may indicate a healthy, noninfected pulmonary system.

Interannual comparison of core taxa and community composition of the blow microbiota from East Australian humpback whales.

The blow microbiota of humpback whales is either generally limited and of transient nature or the reduced airway microbiota is the symptom of a compromised physiological state potentially due to the challenges of the whales' annual migration.

Thar She Blows! A Novel Method for DNA Collection from Cetacean Blow

Background Molecular tools are now widely used to address crucial management and conservation questions. To date, dart biopsying has been the most commonly used method for collecting genetic data

Cetacean morbillivirus in Humpback whales' exhaled breath.

The results show that HW in Brazil are infected by CeMV with a relative prevalence of 4.3% (2/47), and demonstrates the suitability of using EBC and RT-qPCR as a non-invasive tool for CeMv survey in free-ranging whales.

Chemical Analysis of Whale Breath Volatiles: A Case Study for Non-Invasive Field Health Diagnostics of Marine Mammals

The exhaled gray whale breath showed a rich diversity of chemicals, indicating the analysis of whale breath exhalations is a promising new field of research.



Primary bacterial pathogens in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus: needles in haystacks of commensal and environmental microbes.

Investigation of sole bacterial isolates definitively associated with morbidity and mortality in marine mammals was uncommon in the MMP population, and a novel, 5-tier risk categorization system may be useful in determining high risk pathogens among other marine mammal populations.

Microbiology of captive white‐beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) with comments on epizootics

In March 1983, six female white-beaked dolphins were rescued from an ice-clogged bay in Newfoundland, Canada, and transported to Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, and died at intervals of 1–101 days during the period of captivity.

A novel trypanoplasm-like flagellate Jarrellia atramenti n. g., n. sp. (Kinetoplastida: Bodonidae) and ciliates from the blowhole of a stranded pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps (Physeteridae): morphology, life cycle and potential pathogenicity.

The successful 6 mo rehabilitation of a stranded juvenile pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps afforded the opportunity to study the poorly known protozoan fauna of the upper respiratory tract of cetaceans, and proposes the creation of a new genus Jarrellia for the novel bodonid kinetoplastid.

Investigation for presence of Neospora caninum, Toxoplasma gondii and Brucella-species infection in killer whales (Orcinus orca) mass-stranded on the coast of Shiretoko, Hokkaido, Japan.

Tissue samples collected from 8 whales were tested for Neospora caninum, Toxoplasma gondii, and Brucella species DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and immunoblotting, and none of the samples was positive.

Prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. in Five Marine Mammal Species

Parasites were detected in the feces of bowhead whales, right whales, and ringed seals, while neither parasite was detected in samples from bearded seals or beluga whales, the first report of Cryptosporidium spp.

Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms Cultured from Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Inhabiting Estuarine Waters of Charleston, SC and Indian River Lagoon, FL

Bottlenose dolphins may serve as sentinels for transfer of resistance from humans and animals or indicate that antibiotics are reaching the marine environment and causing resistance to emerge through selective pressure and genetic adaptation.

Detection of Virulent Rhodococcus equi in Exhaled Air Samples from Naturally Infected Foals

The high concentrations of virulent R. equi bacteria in exhaled air suggested that aerosol transmission between foals is possible and may have a significant impact on the prevalence of R.equi pneumonia on farms.

Rapid Identification of Rhodococcus equi by a PCR Assay Targeting the choE Gene

A specific PCR assay for the rapid and reliable identification of R. equi actinomycete Rhodococcus equi is reported here on, based on the amplification of a fragment of the choE gene encoding cholesterol oxidase.