Among pinnipeds, four Otariidae species (eared seals) have been reported as occasional or frequent vagrants along the coast of Brazil, mainly in the southern region. These animals usually arrive debilitated during winter and are directed to rehabilitation. Nevertheless, available information on sanitary aspects of stranded pinnipeds in Brazil is limited. Increased fur seal strandings (n=23) were recorded during the 2018 winter season in southeast Brazil (Iguape, Ilha Comprida, and Ilha do Cardoso, Sao Paulo State) compared to 2017 (n=2). Of these 23 fur seals, two were found dead and were in a good postmortem condition, and four died during rehabilitation and were subsequently necropsied. The remaining fur seals were not analyzed due to advanced decomposition (9/23) or successful rehabilitation (8/23). Herein, we report the antemortem hematology (n=4) and postmortem pathologic, parasitologic, and molecular analysis results as well as the most likely cause of stranding and/ or death (CSD) in five free-ranging juvenile South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis) and one free-ranging juvenile subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis). All animals were males, and all but one had poor body condition. Pathologic examinations revealed a variety of lesions, predominantly hemodynamic disturbances, endoparasitism, and inflammatory disease processes of suspected infectious nature. Molecular analyses detected gammaherpesvirus infections in two South American seals and one subantarctic fur seal, Sarcocystis sp. in one subantarctic fur seal, and Neospora spp. in two South American fur seals. All seals were PCR-negative for morbillivirus, flavivirus, and Toxoplasma gondii. The most likely CSDs were: starvation (2), aspiration pneumonia (1), asphyxia (1), predator attack (1), and presumed systemic infectious disease (1). These findings expand the geographic range of various pathogens of pinnipeds and may be of value to first responders, clinicians, and diagnosticians.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1