A stranded yearling male California sea lion was admitted to a rehabilitation center June 2003. On presentation, the sea lion was emaciated and had diarrhea and neutrophilia. Two weeks later, the animal became anorexic, blood and mucus were observed around the oral cavity, and corneal opacity was noted in the right eye. Hematology results at that time included leukocytosis consisting of neutrophilia with a left shift, anemia, and thrombocytopenia. Despite supportive care, the sea lion died. On post mortem examination, there were multiple areas of hemorrhage scattered throughout all lung lobes, and pulmonary blood vessels were occluded by fibrin thrombi. Nematodes identified as immature forms of Otostrongylus circumlitus were found in the right ventricle and pulmonary arteries. Histologic findings in the lungs included severe suppurative and necrotizing arteritis with vascular thrombosis, interstitial pneumonia, and large areas of pulmonary hemorrhage. This report of O. circumlitus infection in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) might indicate a potentially new host-parasite association.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3