Novel strains of Brucella recently have been discovered in marine mammals. To investigate Brucella exposure and infection in a general population of cetaceans, blood and tissue samples were collected and analyzed from wild harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) incidentally caught in fishing gear in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Two of 170 (1.2%) animals had detectable antibodies against Brucella, but no organisms were isolated from genital swabs or tissues from 22 and 8 porpoises, respectively. Genetic analysis of inflamed testes from 20 animals yielded no amplification of Brucella DNA. This is the first evidence of exposure to Brucella in porpoises from the western North Atlantic, and the prevalence is much lower than documented for conspecifics from the eastern North Atlantic.
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Vol. 44 • No. 2