Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 30, 2004
Publication Date: October 30, 2005
Citation: Honnold, S.P., Braun, R., Scott, D.P., Sreekumar, C., Dubey, J.P. 2005. Toxoplasmosis in a Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). Journal of Parasitology. 91:695-697.
Interpretive Summary: Infection by the single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, is common in man and animals. Humans become infected by eating undercooked infected meat or ingesting the resistant stage of Toxoplasma (oocysts) in the environment. Infections in free range-range marine mammals is indicative of Toxoplasma infection in the environment. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology report severe toxoplasmosis in a Hawaiian monk seal for the first time. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, veterinarians, and wildlife biologists.
Toxoplasma gondii infection in marine mammals is intriguing and indicative of contamination of ocean environment with oocysts. Toxoplasma gondii was identified in a Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) that had visceral and cerebral lesions. Tachyzoites were found in the lymph nodes, spleen, diaphragm, heart, adrenal glands, and brain. A few tissue cysts were found in sections of the cerebrum. The diagnosis was confirmed serologically, by immunohistochemical staining with T. gondii-specific polyclonal rabbit serum, and by the detection of T. gondii DNA. The genotype was determined to be Type III by restriction fragment length polymorphisms of the SAG2 gene. This is the first report of T. gondii infection in a Hawaiian monk seal.