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J Wildl Dis. 2017 Oct;53(4):864-868. doi: 10.7589/2016-09-220. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Brucella Infection in Asian Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris lutris) on Bering Island, Russia.

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1 Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, 1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, Davis, California 95965, USA.
2 Kamchatka Branch of Pacific Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Partizanskaya 6, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683000, Russia.
3 US Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management, 1011 E Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503, USA.
4 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 3801 Centerpoint Drive, Suite 500, Anchorage, Alaska 99503, USA.
5 Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, 95 Sterling Highway, Homer, Alaska 99603, USA.
6 Alaska SeaLife Center, 301 Railway Avenue, PO Box 1329, Seward, Alaska 99664, USA.


Infection with Brucella spp., long known as a cause of abortion, infertility, and reproductive loss in domestic livestock, has increasingly been documented in marine mammals over the past two decades. We report molecular evidence of Brucella infection in Asian sea otters (Enhydra lutris lutris). Brucella DNA was detected in 3 of 78 (4%) rectal swab samples collected between 2004 and 2006 on Bering Island, Russia. These 78 animals had previously been documented to have a Brucella seroprevalence of 28%, markedly higher than the prevalence documented in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in North America. All of the DNA sequences amplified were identical to one or more previously isolated Brucella spp. including strains from both terrestrial and marine hosts. Phylogenetic analysis of this sequence suggested that one animal was shedding Brucella spp. DNA with a sequence matching a Brucella abortus strain, whereas two animals yielded a sequence matching a group of strains including isolates classified as Brucella pinnipedialis and Brucella melitensis. Our results highlight the diversity of Brucella spp. within a single sea otter population.


Asian sea otter; Bering Island; Brucella; Enhydra lutris; IS711; PCR; Russia; marine

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