Melioidosis is an emerging infectious disease of humans and animals caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei and endemic in tropical regions, principally Southeast Asia and northern Australia. In September 2017, after Hurricane Maria impacted the Dolphin Discovery facility in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, a juvenile male bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) died within 96 hr of presenting with acute anorexia, lethargy, and respiratory distress. Histopathology demonstrated necrohemorrhagic bronchopneumonia, necrotizing hepatitis, splenitis, and lymphadenitis, with intralesional Gram-negative bacilli. B. pseudomallei was confirmed by bacteriological culture and DNA sequencing. This case emphasizes the challenges of melioidosis diagnosis, the importance of awareness for both early detection and efficacious treatment, and recognition in tropical regions where it has been either not reported or underreported. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first case of cetacean melioidosis in the Caribbean Islands, an often severe and fatal disease with increasing prevalence on the American continent.
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