Clostridium perfringens septicemia in a long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis: An etiology of gas bubble accumulation in cetaceans

Kerri Danil, Judy A. St. Leger, Sophie Dennison, Yara Bernaldo De Quirós, Miriam Scadeng, Erika Nilson, Nicole Beaulieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

An adult female long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis live-stranded in La Jolla, California, USA, on July 30, 2012 and subsequently died on the beach. Computed tomo - graphy and magnetic resonance imaging revealed gas bubble accumulation in the vasculature, organ parenchyma, mandibular fat pads, and subdermal sheath as well as a gas-filled cavity within the liver, mild caudal abdominal effusion, and fluid in the uterus. Gross examination confirmed these findings and also identified mild ulcerations on the palate, ventral skin, and flukes, uterine necrosis, and multifocal parenchymal cavitations in the brain. Histological review demonstrated necrosis and round clear spaces interpreted as gas bubbles with associated bacterial rods within the brain, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Anaerobic cultures of the lung, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and abdominal fluid yielded Clostridium perfringens, which was further identified as type A via a multiplex PCR assay. The gas composition of sampled bubbles was typical of putrefaction gases, which is consistent with the by-products of C. perfringens, a gas-producing bacterium. Gas bubble formation in marine mammals due to barotrauma, and perior postmortem offgassing of supersaturated tissues and blood has been previously described. This case study concluded that a systemic infection of C. perfringens likely resulted in production of gas and toxins, causing tissue necrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Volume111
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cetacea
  • Clostridium
  • Delphinus capensis
  • Disease
  • Gas bubble
  • Gas gangrene
  • Marine mammals
  • Strandings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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