Efficacy of Intracoelomic Enrofloxacin for the Treatment of Sea Star Wasting Disease in Four Species of Captive Asteroidea
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Lesanna L. Lahner1*, DVM, MPH; Sarah J. Wahlstrom1,2; Alisa L. Newton3, VMD, DACVP; Martin Haulena4, DVM, DACZM; Michael Garner5, DVM, DACVP; Christopher Mah6, PhD
1Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA; 3Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoological Health Program, Bronx, NY, USA; 4Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, BC, Canada; 5NorthWest ZooPath, Monroe, WA, USA; 6Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, USA


Sea star wasting disease (SSWD) is associated with one of the largest marine wildlife die-offs ever recorded, killing millions of sea stars from Alaska to Mexico since the summer of 2013.1 Over 20 species of sea stars have been affected by SSWD. Anecdotal reports suggested that enrofloxacin administered via intracoelomic injection (i.c.) was effective in treating SSWD in captive sea stars. Fifty-two sea stars from the five genera (Pycnopodia, Pisaster, Evasterias, Dermasterias, and Orthosterisas) all showing early signs of SSWD, were randomly assigned into a treatment group (n=26, enrofloxacin 5 mg/kg, i.c. q4 days) and a control group (n=26, saline 0.9%, i.c. q4 days) for a total of six treatments. Animals were monitored and graded for severity of lesions twice daily. The scores were not significantly different between groups throughout the study period. At day 20, after four treatments, the mortality rate was 100% and 77% in the control and treatment groups respectively and was not significantly different (p=0.55). At day 30, after six complete treatments, the mortality rate in the treatment group was 95% and there was no significant difference between the two groups (p=0.9). While enrofloxacin given intracoelomically at 10 mg/kg to sea stars results in high drug concentrations in the hemolymph of sea stars (J. Rosenburg, pers. comm.), administration of enrofloxacin by injection did not alter mortality rates significantly in captive sea stars affected by SSWD and is therefore not recommended for the treatment of this disease in commonly affected species.


The authors thank Dr. Martin Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium and Dr. Michael Murray of the Monterey Bay Aquarium for their support and review of this project. The authors thank the Boeing Corporation for their generous support of Sea Star Wasting Disease research through a grant awarded to the Seattle Aquarium.

Literature Cited

1.  Hewson I, Button JB, Gudenkauf BM, Miner B, Newton AL, Gaydos JK, Wynne J, Groves CL, Hendler G, Murray M, Fradkin S, Breitbart M, Fahsbender E, Lafferty KD, Kilpatrick AM, Miner CM, Raimondi P, Lahner L, Friedman CS, Daniels S, Haulena M, Marliave J, Burge CA, Eisenlord ME, Harvell CD. Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2014;111(48):17278–17283.


Speaker Information
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Lesanna L. Lahner, DVM, MPH
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle, WA, USA

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