Health risks for marine mammal workers

Tania D. Hunt, Michael H Ziccardi, Frances M D Gulland, Pamela K. Yochem, David W. Hird, Teresa Rowles, Jonna A Mazet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Marine mammals can be infected with zoonotic pathogens and show clinical signs of disease, or be asymptomatic carriers of such disease agents. While isolated cases of human disease from contact with marine mammals have been reported, no evaluation of the risks associated with marine mammal work has been attempted. Therefore, we designed a survey to estimate the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses in marine mammal workers and volunteers. The 17-question survey asked respondents to describe their contact with marine mammals, injuries sustained, and/or illnesses acquired during their period of marine mammal exposure. Most respondents, 88% (423/483), were researchers and rehabilitators. Of all respondents, 50% (243/483) reported suffering an injury caused by a marine mammal, and 23% (110/483) reported having a skin rash or reaction. Marine mammal work-related illnesses commonly reported included: 'seal finger' (Mycoplasma spp. or Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae), conjunctivitis, viral dermatitis, bacterial dermatitis, and non-specific contact dermatitis. Although specific diagnoses could not be confirmed by a physician through this study, severe illnesses were reported and included tuberculosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and serious sequelae to seal finger. Risk factors associated with increased odds of injury and illness included prolonged and frequent exposure to marine mammals; direct contact with live marine mammals; and contact with tissue, blood, and excretions. Diagnosis of zoonotic disease was often aided by veterinarians; therefore, workers at risk should be encouraged to consult with a marine mammal veterinarian as well as a physician, especially if obtaining a definitive diagnosis for an illness becomes problematic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Volume81
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 2008

Fingerprint

marine mammal
marine mammals
health risk
dermatitis
physicians
seals
veterinarians
brucellosis
contact dermatitis
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
carrier state
conjunctivitis
risk estimate
tuberculosis
leptospirosis
complications (disease)
direct contact
zoonoses
Mycoplasma
risk factor

Keywords

  • Disease
  • Marine mammal
  • Occupational hazards
  • Seal finger
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Hunt, T. D., Ziccardi, M. H., Gulland, F. M. D., Yochem, P. K., Hird, D. W., Rowles, T., & Mazet, J. A. (2008). Health risks for marine mammal workers. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 81(1), 81-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01942

Health risks for marine mammal workers. / Hunt, Tania D.; Ziccardi, Michael H; Gulland, Frances M D; Yochem, Pamela K.; Hird, David W.; Rowles, Teresa; Mazet, Jonna A.

In: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, Vol. 81, No. 1, 19.08.2008, p. 81-92.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hunt, TD, Ziccardi, MH, Gulland, FMD, Yochem, PK, Hird, DW, Rowles, T & Mazet, JA 2008, 'Health risks for marine mammal workers', Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, vol. 81, no. 1, pp. 81-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01942
Hunt TD, Ziccardi MH, Gulland FMD, Yochem PK, Hird DW, Rowles T et al. Health risks for marine mammal workers. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 2008 Aug 19;81(1):81-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01942
Hunt, Tania D. ; Ziccardi, Michael H ; Gulland, Frances M D ; Yochem, Pamela K. ; Hird, David W. ; Rowles, Teresa ; Mazet, Jonna A. / Health risks for marine mammal workers. In: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 2008 ; Vol. 81, No. 1. pp. 81-92.
@article{81b93ea6abd149e2baa81cf77ae1a93f,
title = "Health risks for marine mammal workers",
abstract = "Marine mammals can be infected with zoonotic pathogens and show clinical signs of disease, or be asymptomatic carriers of such disease agents. While isolated cases of human disease from contact with marine mammals have been reported, no evaluation of the risks associated with marine mammal work has been attempted. Therefore, we designed a survey to estimate the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses in marine mammal workers and volunteers. The 17-question survey asked respondents to describe their contact with marine mammals, injuries sustained, and/or illnesses acquired during their period of marine mammal exposure. Most respondents, 88{\%} (423/483), were researchers and rehabilitators. Of all respondents, 50{\%} (243/483) reported suffering an injury caused by a marine mammal, and 23{\%} (110/483) reported having a skin rash or reaction. Marine mammal work-related illnesses commonly reported included: 'seal finger' (Mycoplasma spp. or Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae), conjunctivitis, viral dermatitis, bacterial dermatitis, and non-specific contact dermatitis. Although specific diagnoses could not be confirmed by a physician through this study, severe illnesses were reported and included tuberculosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and serious sequelae to seal finger. Risk factors associated with increased odds of injury and illness included prolonged and frequent exposure to marine mammals; direct contact with live marine mammals; and contact with tissue, blood, and excretions. Diagnosis of zoonotic disease was often aided by veterinarians; therefore, workers at risk should be encouraged to consult with a marine mammal veterinarian as well as a physician, especially if obtaining a definitive diagnosis for an illness becomes problematic.",
keywords = "Disease, Marine mammal, Occupational hazards, Seal finger, Zoonoses",
author = "Hunt, {Tania D.} and Ziccardi, {Michael H} and Gulland, {Frances M D} and Yochem, {Pamela K.} and Hird, {David W.} and Teresa Rowles and Mazet, {Jonna A}",
year = "2008",
month = "8",
day = "19",
doi = "10.3354/dao01942",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "81",
pages = "81--92",
journal = "Diseases of Aquatic Organisms",
issn = "0177-5103",
publisher = "Inter-Research",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Health risks for marine mammal workers

AU - Hunt, Tania D.

AU - Ziccardi, Michael H

AU - Gulland, Frances M D

AU - Yochem, Pamela K.

AU - Hird, David W.

AU - Rowles, Teresa

AU - Mazet, Jonna A

PY - 2008/8/19

Y1 - 2008/8/19

N2 - Marine mammals can be infected with zoonotic pathogens and show clinical signs of disease, or be asymptomatic carriers of such disease agents. While isolated cases of human disease from contact with marine mammals have been reported, no evaluation of the risks associated with marine mammal work has been attempted. Therefore, we designed a survey to estimate the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses in marine mammal workers and volunteers. The 17-question survey asked respondents to describe their contact with marine mammals, injuries sustained, and/or illnesses acquired during their period of marine mammal exposure. Most respondents, 88% (423/483), were researchers and rehabilitators. Of all respondents, 50% (243/483) reported suffering an injury caused by a marine mammal, and 23% (110/483) reported having a skin rash or reaction. Marine mammal work-related illnesses commonly reported included: 'seal finger' (Mycoplasma spp. or Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae), conjunctivitis, viral dermatitis, bacterial dermatitis, and non-specific contact dermatitis. Although specific diagnoses could not be confirmed by a physician through this study, severe illnesses were reported and included tuberculosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and serious sequelae to seal finger. Risk factors associated with increased odds of injury and illness included prolonged and frequent exposure to marine mammals; direct contact with live marine mammals; and contact with tissue, blood, and excretions. Diagnosis of zoonotic disease was often aided by veterinarians; therefore, workers at risk should be encouraged to consult with a marine mammal veterinarian as well as a physician, especially if obtaining a definitive diagnosis for an illness becomes problematic.

AB - Marine mammals can be infected with zoonotic pathogens and show clinical signs of disease, or be asymptomatic carriers of such disease agents. While isolated cases of human disease from contact with marine mammals have been reported, no evaluation of the risks associated with marine mammal work has been attempted. Therefore, we designed a survey to estimate the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses in marine mammal workers and volunteers. The 17-question survey asked respondents to describe their contact with marine mammals, injuries sustained, and/or illnesses acquired during their period of marine mammal exposure. Most respondents, 88% (423/483), were researchers and rehabilitators. Of all respondents, 50% (243/483) reported suffering an injury caused by a marine mammal, and 23% (110/483) reported having a skin rash or reaction. Marine mammal work-related illnesses commonly reported included: 'seal finger' (Mycoplasma spp. or Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae), conjunctivitis, viral dermatitis, bacterial dermatitis, and non-specific contact dermatitis. Although specific diagnoses could not be confirmed by a physician through this study, severe illnesses were reported and included tuberculosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and serious sequelae to seal finger. Risk factors associated with increased odds of injury and illness included prolonged and frequent exposure to marine mammals; direct contact with live marine mammals; and contact with tissue, blood, and excretions. Diagnosis of zoonotic disease was often aided by veterinarians; therefore, workers at risk should be encouraged to consult with a marine mammal veterinarian as well as a physician, especially if obtaining a definitive diagnosis for an illness becomes problematic.

KW - Disease

KW - Marine mammal

KW - Occupational hazards

KW - Seal finger

KW - Zoonoses

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=52249088385&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=52249088385&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3354/dao01942

DO - 10.3354/dao01942

M3 - Article

C2 - 18828566

AN - SCOPUS:52249088385

VL - 81

SP - 81

EP - 92

JO - Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

JF - Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

SN - 0177-5103

IS - 1

ER -