Brucella-induced abortions and infection in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Academic Article uri icon


  • Two bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) aborted fetuses that died as a result of Brucella infection. Brucella placentitis occurred in both cases. Infected placenta and vaginal/uterine fluids may transmit Brucella species to other cetaceans. In a third case, an identical organism was cultured from lung necropsy tissue of an adult female T. truncatus. Microbiology, specific polymerase chain reaction, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis results supported the designation of an additional genomic group(s), Brucella delphini, for isolates adapted to T. truncatus. Current serologic diagnostic tests reliable for known Brucella species are unreliable in detecting dolphin brucellosis. Our findings, together with previous reports, suggest that dolphin brucellosis is a naturally occurring disease that can adversely impact reproduction in cetaceans. The zoonotic significance of cetacean brucellosis is unknown, although the disease has not been reported in people who have frequent contact with dolphins. Further studies on the zoonotic aspects, distribution, prevalence, virulence, and impact of this disease in cetaceans and other marine mammal species are needed.

published proceedings

  • J Zoo Wildl Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Miller, W. G., Adams, L. G., Ficht, T. A., Cheville, N. F., Payeur, J. P., Harley, D. R., House, C., & Ridgway, S. H.

citation count

  • 84

complete list of authors

  • Miller, WG||Adams, LG||Ficht, TA||Cheville, NF||Payeur, JP||Harley, DR||House, C||Ridgway, SH

publication date

  • March 1999