Bottlenose Dolphin Immune System Response to Stress and Infectious Disease
IAAAM 1988
J.P. Schroeder; N. Vedros; B. Fenwick; H. Parker
NOSC, Kaneohe, HI


Analysis of indications of immune system response to stress and infectious disease is important in management of marine mammal health. Rapid diagnostic and prognostic indicators of dolphin health are being developed and applied.

Our objectives were to correlate a newly developed immune system indicator, radial immunoassay of immunoglobulins, with biological indicators of stress: erythrocyte sedimentation rate, serum cortisol levels, eosinophil numbers, free iron in serum and blood gas analysis to determine effects of collection and transport of newly collected bottlenose dolphins. These data were analyzed and related to the dolphin's responses to bacteria cultured from their blowholes.

Analysis of periodic blood samples indicated increased sedimentation rates within one week of collection and decreasing serum iron along with some changes in bacterial flora. Vibrio alginolyticus, (normal blowhole flora in dolphins in Hawaii), was replaced in three cases by coagulase positive, Beta hemolytic, penicillin resistant Staphlycoccus aureus. Additional blood parameters were measured and correlated with the progression of disease processes, from the collection date through adjustments to captivity.

Technology in stress assessment, epidemiology and immunology of marine mammals was important in health management decisions for these newly captured dolphins.

Speaker Information
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J. Pete Schroeder, DVM
Kaneohe, HI

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