Persistent Penile Lesions in an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Associated with Genomic Sequences of Herpes and Papilloma Viruses
IAAAM Archive
Michael S. Renner1; Kara A. Smolarek2; Carlos H. Romero2
1Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell, OH, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


A wild caught, approximately 24 years old, male, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), kept in human care for the last 20 years, presented with genital lesions. Clinical examination revealed the presence of penile lesions consisting of multiple, coalescing, raised, white, plaques, 0.5-1 cm in diameter. Although the lesions changed in severity from time to time, they never completely resolved in over 3 years since presentation. The dolphin was trained for penile presentation and multiple deep mucosal scrapings were obtained for cytology, microbiology, and virology work over the last year. Molecular virology testing using PCR and sequencing of amplicons showed that the lesions were transiently infected with a poxvirus and persistently infected with unique herpes and papilloma viruses. It is speculated that one of these two viruses or their simultaneous action on the penile mucosal tissue may be responsible for the persistence of these lesions.

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Michael S. Renner, DVM
SeaWorld of Ohio, Aurora, OH, USA

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