Novel Presentation of San Miguel Sea Lion Virus Epizootic in Adult Captive California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus)
IAAAM 2009
Todd L. Schmitt1; Thomas H. Reidarson1; Judy St. Leger1; Rebecca Rivera3; Hendrik H. Nollens1,2,3
1SeaWorld of California, San Diego, CA, USA; 2University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, San Diego, CA, USA


An epizootic of sequential clinical illness occurred in a small group of California sea lions, Zalophus californianus, at a large marine animal theme park. Four of six sub-adult to adult male sea lions, ages 5-30 years, presented a variety of clinical signs including anorexia, lethargy, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Two of those four animals also experienced vomiting or regurgitation. In addition, late in the series of illnesses, a fifth animal presented with vesicular lesions on the dorsal surface of the foreflippers but had no signs of gastrointestinal disease. Fecal samples of three out of the four clinically ill sea lions tested positive for San Miguel sea lion virus (SMSLV) using PCR and sequencing. SMSLV was also detected in the vesicular fluid, as well as a fecal sample collected from the fifth affected sea lion. Blood analyses conducted within two days of the first clinical signs from two of the four clinically affected animals showed marked leukopenia, lymphopenia and thrombocytopenia uncharacteristic of previous reports of calicivirus infection in sea lions. The sea lions were treated empirically with antibiotics and supportive care with all recovering uneventfully within 5-14 days. Interestingly, one of the six exposed sea lions never developed clinical signs of vesicular or gastrointestinal disease and no SMSLV was detected on fecal PCR.

Early diagnosis with fecal PCR enabled the clinicians to manage the cases accordingly. These cases highlight the variability of disease manifestation and viral shedding following calicivirus infection beyond the more common vesicular disease to include gastrointestinal disease and moderate bone marrow suppression.

Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Todd L. Schmitt
SeaWorld of California
San Diego, CA, USA

MAIN : Infect & Parasit : Sea Lion Virus Epizootic
Powered By VIN

Friendly Reminder to Our Colleagues: Use of VIN content is limited to personal reference by VIN members. No portion of any VIN content may be copied or distributed without the expressed written permission of VIN.

Clinicians are reminded that you are ultimately responsible for the care of your patients. Any content that concerns treatment of your cases should be deemed recommendations by colleagues for you to consider in your case management decisions. Dosages should be confirmed prior to dispensing medications unfamiliar to you. To better understand the origins and logic behind these policies, and to discuss them with your colleagues, click here.

Images posted by VIN community members and displayed via VIN should not be considered of diagnostic quality and the ultimate interpretation of the images lies with the attending clinician. Suggestions, discussions and interpretation related to posted images are only that -- suggestions and recommendations which may be based upon less than diagnostic quality information.


777 W. Covell Blvd., Davis, CA 95616


  • Toll Free: 800-700-4636
  • From UK: 01-45-222-6154
  • From anywhere: (1)-530-756-4881
  • From Australia: 02-6145-2357