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J Med Microbiol. 2014 Feb;63(Pt 2):325-9. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.065672-0. Epub 2013 Dec 9.

Brucella ceti from two striped dolphins stranded on the Apulia coastline, Italy.

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Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e Molise 'G. Caporale', National and OIE Reference Laboratory for Brucellosis, Via Campo Boario 64100, Teramo, Italy.


Since 1994, when Brucella ceti was first isolated from an aborted dolphin fetus, several cases have been reported worldwide. The first case of B. ceti in the Mediterranean (and in Italy), however, was recorded only in 2012, off the coast of Tuscany. Extensive studies, using serological and microbiological methods, have documented this bacterium in dolphins and demonstrated its zoonotic potential. We describe the typing of two B. ceti strains isolated from striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) stranded on the southern Apulia coastline. B. ceti isolates were conventionally typed, and then genotyped by both the multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and the multilocus variable number of tandem repeats typing (MLVA) methodologies to infer phylogeny and potential epidemiological links between the two cases. The two isolates were identified through MLST analysis as belonging to the common sequence type 26 (ST26), while MLVA analysis, having established that the two isolates have identical profiles, assigned them to a novel genotype within cluster A - a unique representative of a new Mediterranean subcluster. The results thus revealed a link between the two cases studied, demonstrating the usefulness of MLST and MLVA for the epidemiological investigation of brucellae among marine mammals.

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