Clostridium Perfringens Isolates from Cetaceans
IAAAM 1994
Michael T. Walsh1; Lee Ann Thomas2; J. Glenn Songer3; Terry W. Campbel1; Linda Schroeder Tucker2
1Sea World of Florida, Orlando, FL;2National Veterinary Services Laboratory, Bacterial Identification Section, Ames, LA; 3Department of Veterinary Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Diseases associated with clostridia have been well documented in a number of species. The most common clostridial species cultured from the intestinal tract of ill and healthy cetaceans is Clostridium perfringens. In an effort to determine a possible correlation of the organisms presence with disease symptoms, all cultures identified as C. perfringens were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories Bacterial Identification Section for toxin typing. Clostridium perfringens was recovered from the intestinal tract of Orcinus orca, Pseudorca crassidens, Tursiops truncatus and Kogia simus. Of nineteen cultures, ten isolates could not be typed due to insufficient toxin production or no toxin production. Six C. perfringens isolates were shown to be type A by use of a mouse protection assay in which 0.5ml of filtrate was inoculated into each of two mice via the tail vein.

Ten strains were then forwarded to the University of Arizona, Department of Veterinary Science for typing by polymerase chain reaction assay. Of these, all but one of the strains was determined to be genotype A positive for the alpha toxin, negative for beta and epsilon toxin. All were negative for the enterotoxin gene. It could not be determined if any were type E since there is currently no test available. Five additional samples are currently being evaluated at this time.

Clinically these organisms may be responsible for enterocolitis in debilitated animals or individuals on prolonged antibiotic therapy. Treatment may include suitable antibiotics which are not absorbed from the intestinal tract.

Speaker Information
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Michael T. Walsh, DVM
SeaWorld of Florida
Orlando, FL, USA

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