Successful Resolution of "Bonnethead Shark Disease", Presumptive Disseminated Fusarium Infection, with Anti-Fungal Therapy and Environmental Manipulation
IAAAM Archive
Michelle R. Davis1; Caryn Poll2; William Van Bonn2; Eric Curtis2; Michelle Sattler2
1Chicago Zoo and Aquatic Animal Residency Program, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA; 2John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL, US


"Bonnethead shark disease" is a well described disease of bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo) caused by the fungus, Fusarium solani.4 The syndrome is characterized by the development of white pustules along the lateral line system and bonnet of affected individuals. Skin ulcerations, hemorrhages and swelling may also be present. The disease is progressive and fatal, with hemorrhage into the deep muscle or cartilage and invasion of the fungus into skin, muscle, cartilage, and, occasionally, internal organs.3,4 Previous attempts to treat affected individuals have been unsuccessful. The disease has also been reported in scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini).2 We successfully treated an adult female bonnethead shark displaying clinical signs and lesions typical of "bonnethead shark disease." Treatment included systemic use of a newer triazole antifungal medication1 and temperature modification.


We would like to thank the animal husbandry department at John G. Shedd Aquarium for their care of the affected bonnethead shark.


1.  Consigny S, Dhedin N, Datry A, Choquet S, Leblond V, O Chosidow. 2003. Successful voriconazole treatment of disseminated Fusarium infection in an immunocompromised patient. Clinical Infectious Diseases 37:311-313.

2.  Crow GL, Brock JA, S Kaiser. 1995. Fusarium solani fungal infection of the lateral line canal system in captive scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) in Hawaii. Journal of Wildlife Disease 31(4):562-565.

3.  Muhvich AG, Reimschuessel R, Lipsky MM, RO Bennett. 1989. Fusarium solani isolated from newborn bonnethead sharks, Sphyrna tiburo (L.). Journal of Fish Diseases 12:57-62.

4.  Terrell SP. 2004. An introduction to viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases of elasmobranchs. In: The Elasmobranch Husbandry Manual: Captive Care of Sharks, Rays and their Relatives, M. Smith, D. Warmolts, D. Thoney, and R. Hueter (eds.). Ohio Biological Survey Inc., Columbus, Ohio, USA. Pp.427-431.

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Michelle R. Davis

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