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Vet Microbiol. 2013 May 31;164(1-2):158-63. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.01.023. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

The presence of Brucella ceti ST26 in a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) with meningoencephalitis from the Mediterranean Sea.

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Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana, Via Appia Nuova 1411, 00178, Rome, Italy.


Brucella spp. was isolated from brain, lung and intestinal lymph nodes of a dead adult male striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) found stranded on the Tyrrhenian coast (Tuscany, Italy) of the Mediterranean Sea in February 2012. Brucella spp. was associated with moderate to severe lesions of meningoencephalitis. A co-infection by Toxoplasma gondii was also demonstrated at brain level by means of molecular and histopathologic methods. The Brucella isolate was further characterized based on a fragment-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach, consisting of a set of five specific PCRs, targeting specific chromosomal IS711 locations for marine mammal Brucellae, as described previously. The isolate was thus classified as Brucella ceti I; V fragment-positive (or B. ceti dolphin type), according to previous studies. Multi Locus Sequence Analysis demonstrated that the isolate belongs to Sequence Type 26, while omp2 (omp2a and omp2b genes) sequence analysis further confirmed the isolate belonged to this group of strains. This is the first report of Brucella spp. from marine mammals in the Mediterranean Sea, and represents a further observation that this strain group is associated with hosts of the Family Delphinidae, and particularly with the striped dolphins, also in the Mediterranean area, thus constituting a further biological hazard of concern for this vulnerable subpopulation.

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