Merck Manual

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Tuberculosis in Marine Mammals

By

Charles O. Thoen

, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University

Last full review/revision Aug 2014 | Content last modified Oct 2014

Mycobacterium pinnipedii (a seal-adapted variant of M bovis) causes tuberculous lesions in fur seals and sea lions. The organism has been isolated from four species of fur seals and two species of sea lions in several countries as well as from some other animals. In seals, the organism causes lesions in the peripheral lymph nodes, spleen, peritoneum, and lungs. The presence of acid-fast organisms in the granulomatous lesions varies. Aerosols are considered the main route of transmission. Because of the zoonotic risk, precautions should be taken when handling these animals. (Also see Mycobacteriosis.)

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