Preliminary Findings in a Dolphin Erysipelothrix Vaccination Program
IAAAM Archive
Elizabeth Chittick1; Michael Walsh1; Scott Gearhart1; Jim McBain2
1SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, FL, USA; 2SeaWorld California, San Diego, CA, USA


Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causes two forms of clinical disease in cetaceans, an acute septicemic form and a dermatological form. After three confirmed cases of acute Erysipelothrix infections occurred in Tursiops truncatus over a one-month period, SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove instituted an Erysipelothrix vaccination program. Vaccination was performed with ER Bac® Plus (Pfizer, Inc., Exton, PA 19341), a commercially available E. rhusiopathiae bacterin labeled for swine. Compared to similar vaccines available in the United States, ER Bac® Plus provides improved Erysipelothrix control and longer duration of immunity in pigs. The vaccine is serum-free and is combined with Amphigen® adjuvant (Pfizer, Inc., Exton, PA 19341) to reduce hypersensitivity reactions and enhance the immune response, respectively.

Dolphins were vaccinated with 2 ml of ER Bac® Plus intramuscularly and boostered three to four weeks later, following the labeled protocols for swine. Blood was drawn before initial vaccination and booster. Dolphins were monitored for 30 min out of the water immediately after vaccinations and an additional one to two hours after returning to the pool. To date, six dolphins have been vaccinated and boostered successfully. With the exception of one dolphin that showed brief abdominal tensing 15 minutes post booster, no local or systemic adverse reactions were observed after any vaccination.


The authors would like to thank SeaWorld Orlando's Veterinary Services and Animal Care staff, as well as Discovery Cove staff, for their participation and help with this program. In particular, thanks to Jack Pearson, Stewart Clark, Randy Runnells, Bob Wagoner, Kimberly Engle, Alice Jones, and Dina Raichel for their support of the program. We would also like to thank Dr. Rhonda Patterson and Dr. Jeff Stott for providing their expertise and diagnostic efforts for this project.

Speaker Information
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Elizabeth J. Chittick, DVM
Environmental Medicine Consortium
and Departments of Companion Animal and Special Species Medicine and Microbiology, Pathology, and Parasitology
North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine
Raleigh, NC, USA