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Antibodies to Brucella in marine mammals around the coast of England and Wales
  1. P. D. Jepson, BVMS, MRCVS1,
  2. S. Brew, BSc2,
  3. A. P. MacMillan, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS2,
  4. J. R. Baker, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS3,1,
  5. J. Barnett, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS4,
  6. J. K. Kirkwood, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS1,2,
  7. T. Kuiken, DVM5,
  8. I. R. Robinson, BVSc, MRCVS6 and
  9. V. R. Simpson, BVSc, DTVM, MRCVS7
  1. 1 Veterinary Science Group, Institute of Zoology, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY
  2. 2 Central Veterinary Laboratory, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KY15 3NB
  3. 3 Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, Wirral, Cheshire L64 7TE
  4. 4 Biological Services, Weymouth Sea Life Park, Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX
  5. 5 Department of Veterinary Pathology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5B4
  6. 6 RSPCA Wildlife Hospital, Station Road, East Winch, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1NR
  7. 7 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Veterinary Investigation Unit, Polwhele, Truro, Cornwall TR4 9AD


Following the isolation of previously unrecognised species of Brucella from stranded seals and cetaceans in Scotland and northern England, a serological survey was carried out to investigate the range of marine mammal species which may have been exposed to Brucella species around the coasts of England and Wales, the prevalence of infection and the temporal and geographical distribution of seropositive animals. Serum collected from 153 stranded marine mammals from the coasts of England and Wales between 1989 and 1995 were tested by competitive and indirect ELISA. Positive titres were recorded for six of 62 (10 per cent) grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), one of 12 (8 per cent) common seals (Phoca vitulina), 11 of 35 (31 per cent) harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and nine of 29 (31 per cent) common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) tested. Positive titres were also found in a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), a killer whale (Orcinus orca) and a pilot whale (Globicephala melas). The seropositive animals were from all around the coasts of England and Wales and the first seropositive sample was from a common dolphin in 1990.

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  • Dr Baker's present address is The Dormie, Berth-ddu, Rhosesmor, Mold, Clwyd CH7 6PS

  • Dr Kirkwood's present address is the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 8 Hamilton Close, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 3QD

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