Systemic mycosis in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) with detection of cystofilobasidiales DNA

Cara L. Field, Allison D. Tuttle, Inga F. Sidor, Carol A Nyaoke, Kathleen M. Deering, Kelly Gilbert-Marcheterre, Guillermo Risatti, Tracey Spoon, Jenny Meegan, Tracy A. Romano, Salvatore Frasca, J. Lawrence Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A 6-yr-old, intact male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) with a systemic mycosis died after 5 wk of antifungal drug therapy. Antemortem clinical findings included hind flipper swelling, ring-lesions on skin of the flippers, and dermal nodules that increased in size and number spreading from the hind flippers and ventral abdomen to the foreflippers and muzzle. Lesions were accompanied by severe lymphadenopathy and development of systemic clinical signs despite therapy using itraconazole and later voriconazole. Histopathologic evaluation of biopsies revealed granulomatous dermatitis due to infection by fungus-producing yeast cells in tissue. Isolation attempts, using biopsied skin and tissue samples collected at necropsy, failed to yield growth of a fungus producing yeast cells like those in histologic section. Consensus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests of biopsied skin for fungal DNA produced an amplicon having significant sequence identity with a Cystofilobasidiales, a fungus belonging to a subclade that includes several Cryptococcus spp. Histopathologic evaluation of necropsy tissues revealed a systemic mycosis with yeast cells disseminated throughout subcutis, lymph nodes, and viscera. Hepatic necrosis was identified associated with acute liver failure, possibly from the voriconazole administration. This is the first report documenting the clinical presentation, treatment, and pathologic findings of infection associated with Cystofilobasidiales in a marine mammal and serves to expand the understanding of mycoses in pinnipeds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Cystofilobasidiales
  • fungus
  • mycosis
  • sea lion
  • voriconazole
  • Zalophus californianus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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