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  • Author or Editor: Michael H. Ziccardi x
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Objective—To validate a luciferase bioassay, which is based on a recombinant mouse hepatoma cell line, for the detection of exposure to petroleum in mustelid species.

Animals—122 American mink (Mustela vison) and 15 sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

Procedures—Mink were exposed to Bunker C fuel oil or Alaska North Slope crude oil externally as a single exposure or internally via low dose concentrations in their ration for 6 months. Serum samples were analyzed for cytochrome P450 1A1 induction by quantification of luciferase activity in the bioassay. Mink liver specimens were also evaluated for cytochrome P450 1A1 induction by quantification of ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase activity. Serum collected from exposed and unexposed sea otters was also analyzed using the luciferase bioassay.

Results—Serum samples from mink externally exposed to petroleum had significantly increased luciferase activities at 1 week after exposure. Serum samples taken at later time points or from mink exposed to either product in the ration did not cause significant luciferase induction. Samples from otters exposed to petroleum had significantly higher luciferase induction as compared with samples from otters not exposed to petroleum at 2 and 8 years after the spill. Cytochrome P450 1A1 activity in liver specimens collected from mink that were internally exposed through diet was significantly increased at the conclusion of our study.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The luciferase bioassay is a sensitive and specific method for determining recent exposure to petroleum in mink. The lack of luciferase activity in serum samples collected from mink greater than 1 week after experimental exposure was likely attributable to lower overall petroleum exposure in our trial, compared with natural exposures. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:963–968)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine types and estimate prevalence of potentially zoonotic enteric pathogens shed by wild animals admitted to either of 2 wildlife hospitals and to characterize distribution of these pathogens and of aerobic bacteria in a hospital environment.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample—Fecal samples from 338 animals in 2 wildlife hospitals and environmental samples from 1 wildlife hospital.

Procedures—Fecal samples were collected within 24 hours of hospital admission. Environmental samples were collected from air and surfaces. Samples were tested for zoonotic pathogens via culture techniques and biochemical analyses. Prevalence of pathogen shedding was compared among species groups, ages, sexes, and seasons. Bacterial counts were determined for environmental samples.

ResultsCampylobacter spp, Vibrio spp, Salmonella spp, Giardia spp, and Cryptosporidium spp (alone or in combination) were detected in 105 of 338 (31%) fecal samples. Campylobacter spp were isolated only from birds. Juvenile passerines were more likely to shed Campylobacter spp than were adults; prevalence increased among juvenile passerines during summer. Non-O1 serotypes of Vibrio cholerae were isolated from birds; during an oil-spill response, 9 of 10 seabirds screened were shedding this pathogen, which was also detected in environmental samples. Salmonella spp and Giardia spp were isolated from birds and mammals; Cryptosporidium spp were isolated from mammals only. Floors of animal rooms had higher bacterial counts than did floors with only human traffic.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Potentially zoonotic enteric pathogens were identified in samples from several species admitted to wildlife hospitals, indicating potential for transmission if prevention is not practiced.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association