Dermatitis with Invasive Ciliated Protozoa in Dolphins That Died During the 1987-88 Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Morbilliviral Epizootic
Dermatitis with intradermal ciliated protozoa was identified in 18 of 95 (19%) Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) that
died during the 1987-88 Atlantic-dolphin morbillivirus epizootic. The lesions were characterized by focally extensive suppurative and histiocytic dermatitis and
cellulitis with ulceration and variable numbers of dermal and hypodermal ciliates. Vasculitis, thrombosis, and/or intravascular ciliates were rarely present. In
one dolphin, there was an associated lymphadenitis with ciliates and, in another, bronchopneumonia with rare intrabronchiolar ciliates. Ten of the dolphins were
female and eight were male. The animals ranged in length from 148 to 260 cm. Eleven were from Virginia, four from New Jersey, and three were from Florida. In 13
dolphins, results of immunohistochemistry and/or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were positive for morbillivirus infection. Results of immunohistochemical
tests were negative in four dolphins that were not also tested with PCR. Results were also negative in one dolphin tested using both methods. Nine dolphins had
concomitant bacterial, fungal and/or other protozoal infections. Fourteen other dolphins with ciliate-associated dermatitis were identified out of 414 Atlantic
bottlenose dolphin cases (3%) archived at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The incidence of dermatitis with invasive ciliates is much greater in dolphins
that died during the 1987-88 epizootic.
This abstract is reprinted with permission from Vet Pathol 36(2): 171-174 (1999).