Case Description—An underweight, lethargic adult female California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) became stranded along the California shore and was captured and transported to a rehabilitation hospital for assessment and care.
Clinical Findings—Initial physical assessment revealed the sea lion was lethargic and in poor body condition. Active myositis was diagnosed on the basis of concurrent elevations in activities of alanine aminotransferase and creatine kinase detected during serum biochemical analysis. Infection with Sarcocystis neurona was diagnosed after serologic titers increased 4-fold over a 3-week period. Diagnosis was confirmed on the basis of histopathologic findings, positive results on immunohistochemical staining, and results of quantitative PCR assay on biopsy specimens obtained from the diaphragm and muscles of the dorsal cervical region.
Treatment and Outcome—Anticoccidial treatment was instituted with ponazuril (10 mg/kg [4.5 mg/lb], PO, q 24 h) and continued for 28 days. Prednisone (0.2 mg/kg [0.09 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h) was administered for 2 days and then every 24 hours for 5 days to treat associated inflammation. At the end of treatment, the sea lion was clinically normal, alanine aminotransferase and creatine kinase values were within reference limits, and antibody titers against S neurona had decreased 6-fold. The sea lion was released approximately 3 months after becoming stranded.
Clinical Relevance—S neurona–induced myositis was diagnosed in a free-ranging California sea lion. On the basis of the successful treatment and release of this sea lion, anticoccidial treatment should be considered for marine mammals in which protozoal disease is diagnosed.
Objective—To determine the effect of natural exposure to domoic acid (DA) on eosinophil counts and adrenal gland function in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).
Design—Cross-sectional prospective study.
Animals—39 California sea lions.
Procedures—Adult female sea lions admitted to a rehabilitation hospital during 2009 were classified into 1 of 3 groups (acute DA toxicosis, chronic DA toxicosis, or no DA exposure) on the basis of clinical signs, DA concentration in urine or feces, and hippocampal morphology. Endoparasite burden, eosinophil count, and serum cortisol and plasma ACTH concentrations were determined for each sea lion. For a subset of 8 sea lions, fecal glucocorticoid concentration after IM administration of cosyntropin was determined.
Results—Sea lions exposed to DA (acute DA toxicosis, n = 11; chronic DA toxicosis, 19) had higher eosinophil counts and lower serum cortisol concentrations, compared with values for sea lions with no DA exposure (9). Eosinophil count was not associated with endoparasite burden. Serum cortisol concentration was associated with plasma ACTH concentrations in sea lions from the no DA exposure group but not in sea lions in the acute or chronic DA toxicosis groups. Following cosyntropin injection, fecal glucocorticoid concentrations increased in all sea lions evaluated except 1.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In adult sea lions, eosinophilia may be a cost-effective biomarker for DA exposure and may reflect alterations in hypothalamic, pituitary gland, or adrenal gland function. Domoic acid exposure may have subtle health effects on marine animals in addition to induction of neurologic signs.