Health Assessments and Antibiotic Resistance of Free-Ranging Atlantic Sharpnose (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) and Bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) off the Coasts of Florida and Georgia
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009

Katherine Haman1, MS; Terry Norton2, DVM, DACZM; Florina Tseng1, DVM; Mike Arendt3, MS; Kirsten Gilardi4, DVM

1School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA; 2Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Jekyll Island, GA, USA; 3South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Beaufort, SC, USA; 4School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


This research presents baseline health assessments and the incidence rate of antibiotic resistance (ABR) in bacteria cultured from two species of free-ranging shark, the Atlantic sharpnose (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) and the bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo), from the coastal waters of Georgia and Florida. Health parameters and diagnostic testing include physical examination, body weight and morphometric measurements, complete blood counts and plasma biochemistry panels. This data is analyzed for correlation with the presence or absence of ABR in bacteria cultured from cloacal swabs. Geospatial analysis quantifies the variables in relation to (1) distance from shore and (2) distance from river outlet. This project is designed to provide health data from healthy, free-range sharks in order to improve the manner by which physical conditions are maintained in captive sharks. Specific aims addressed by these data are to:

1.  Provide the normal reference ranges (mean ± SD) for plasma biochemistry, vitamin, mineral, and lipid levels, and heavy metal and organochlorine levels in two species of shark.

2.  Determine the normal bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract of sharpnose and bonnethead sharks captured off the coasts of Georgia and Florida.

3.  Quantify the prevalence of ABR in these bacterial flora.

4.  Correlate these health reference ranges and the ABR prevalence in the sharks with their geospatial distribution.


Speaker Information
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Katherine Haman, MS
School of Veterinary Medicine
Tufts University
North Grafton, MA, USA

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