Mucormycosis in Three Cetaceans
IAAAM 1993
Leslie M. Dalton, DVM1; James F. McBain, DVM2
1Sea World of Texas, San Antonio, TX; 2Sea World of California, San Diego, CA

Three cases of mucormycosis in cetaceans are reviewed. The cases were characterized by variable symptomatology which included lethargy, anorexia, and central nervous system signs. Laboratory tests revealed elevated white blood cell counts, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, aspartate amino transfer erase (AST/SGOT), creatine phosphokinase, and lactic dehydrogenase. Clinically apparent disease lasted from a few hours to 19 days prior to death.

Mucormycosis (zygomycosis, phycomycosis) is the term used to identify disease in humans or animals in which the etiologic agent is a member of the order Mucorales. Organisms in this order are common in the environment, (i.e., soil, decaying fruits and vegetables, animal excreta and old bread), and are worldwide in distribution. Invasive infections by organisms in this order are comparatively rare, Saksenaea vasiformis was a pure isolate from the brain and uterus of a deceased, pregnant killer whale. The uterus was the portal of entry with the brain being infected via the hematogenous route. The organism resulted in a necrotizing endometritis and encephalitis. Apophysomyces elegans was isolated from the tissues of a Pacific white-sided dolphin. A second Pacific white-sided dolphin died with identical gross and histological lesions. A diagnosis of mucormycosis was made based on the morphology of the fungal hyphae in the tissues. There has only been one animal infection caused by Saksenaea and no animal infections caused by Apophysomyces previously reported.

Speaker Information
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James F. McBain, DVM
Sea World of California
San Diego, CA, USA

Leslie M. Dalton, BA, DVM
Sea World of Texas
San Antonio, TX, USA

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