Many reports implicate Staphylococcus aureus as the causative agent
in mortalities of cetaceans. There were (3) such confirmed cases at Ocean Park, in 1976, 1984 and
1992. S. aureus is ubiquitous in Ocean Park, having been isolated from healthy cetaceans,
pinnipeds, goats, rabbit eye, penguins, otters and the nares of trainers. The present report
describes more recent clinical cases in our bottlenose dolphins due to S. aureus.
A young female bottlenose dolphin presented with clinical signs of
inappetence, pyrexia and lethargy in March, 1991. On microbiological examination, a haemolytic S.
aureus was cultured and ultrasonographic examination revealed an area of consolidation in
the caudoventral aspect of her left lung. This lesion was confirmed by radiography. Treatment with
appropriate antibiotics resulted in regression of clinical signs. In January, 1994, lethargy,
pyrexia and inappetence again were apparent with isolation of a non-haemolytic S. aureus.
Ultrasonographic examination determined evidence of a new pulmonary lesion adjacent and medial
to the pneumonic lesions from the March, 1991 episode. Treatment was instituted and is continuing.
Haematological and biochemical values were monitored throughout the two clinical courses and on a
regular basis. During both episodes, other bottlenose dolphins housed in close proximity to the
clinical case also yielded S. aureus.
The isolates from cetaceans and trainers will be compared by phage typing and
antibiograms. In addition, antibodies specific to S. aureus were determined in the
cetaceans and an experimental autogenous vaccine undergoing tests at Ocean Park, will be