A 14-year-old female bottlenose dolphin was diagnosed with mycobacterial panniculitis based on punch biopsy specimens. The necropsy revealed numerous pyogranulomas in the blubber, as well as marked acute multifocal necrosuppurative pneumonia and lymphadenitis. In addition, the animal had marked scoliosis, which had first been noted clinically in the dolphin at about 1 mo of age. The animal had been treated with low-dose dexamethasone for approximately the last 19 mo to reduce perceived discomfort from spondyloarthritis and with the progestational agent altrogenest for approximately 8 yr to prevent pregnancy. Acid-fast positive bacilli were detected in the dermis but not in lung or lymph nodes. Mycobacterium chelonae was isolated from pooled skin, lung, and peripheral lymph-node tissue. Mycobacterial infection may be considered as a differential diagnosis in bottlenose dolphins with generalized cutaneous inflammation, particularly if chronic steroid and progesterone treatments were administered, both of which may have an immunomodulatory effect.
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Vol. 39 • No. 3