Previously, we reported the isolation of Bartonella henselae from the blood of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from the North Carolina coast. Hematologic, pathologic, and microbiologic findings surrounding the death of a juvenile captive beluga in Vancouver initiated an outbreak investigation designed to define the molecular prevalence of Bartonella infection in belugas. Using polymerase chain reaction analyses targeting the intergenic spacer region (ITS), two B. henselae ITS strains were identified in 78% of captive and free-ranging hunter-harvested belugas. These findings may have public health implications and may influence aquarium management procedures for captive marine mammals.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4