The Peruvian population of the South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) is a distinct evolutionarily significant unit that is endangered. One of the largest rookeries for this species in Peru is located within the Punta San Juan marine protected area (15°22′S, 75°12′W). To better understand the current health status of this population, exposure to 10 pinniped pathogens was evaluated in adult female fur seals (n = 29) via serology and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques in November 2010. The results suggest this population is naïve to canine and phocine distemper viruses (serum neutralization test), five Leptospira interrogans serovars (microscopic agglutination test), and Brucella canis (card test). Indirect fluorescent antibody testing for Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, and Sarcocystis neurona was also uniformly negative. PCR testing of nasal swabs using previously described Mycoplasma spp. primers was positive in 37.9% (11/29) of samples. One animal was positive via card test for Brucella abortus, whereas 53.7% (15/28) were positive or suspect using a marine Brucella competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibody to phocine herpesvirus-1 (PHV-1) was identified in 85.7% (24/28) of the sampled population by serum neutralization testing. Overall, exposure to Mycoplasma spp., Brucella spp., and PHV-1 was observed, but results demonstrated low to no exposure to many key pinniped pathogens. The expansion of human populations, agriculture, and industry along the Peruvian coast may lead to increased pathogen exposure from human, domestic, and wild animal sources. The naïve nature of this key population of South American fur seals raises concerns about potential risk for disease outbreaks.
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