Cysts of Giardia sp. were detected in feces from the rectum of 20 of 74 pinnipeds examined from the eastern coast of Canada in 1997 and 1998 using a monoclonal antibody technique. Infected pinnipeds included 15 adult harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), four adult grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), and one juvenile harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Cysts were not detected in 15 seal pups <1-yr–old. The highest prevalence (50%) occurred in adult harp seals collected near the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The overall prevalence of Giardia sp. in grey and harbor seals, excluding pups, from the Gulf and St. Lawrence estuary was 23%. Feces from 11 beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and one northern bottle-nosed whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) stranded in the St. Lawrence estuary were negative for Giardia sp. cysts. The significance of Giardia sp. in marine mammals, shown here for the first time in eastern coastal Canada, is unknown.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4