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Salmonella infection in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), a marine mammal sentinel species: pathogenicity and molecular typing of Salmonella strains compared with human and livestock isolates

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Johanna L Baily, Geoffrey Foster, Derek Brown, Nick Davison, John E Coia, Eleanor Watson, Romain Pizzi, Kim Willoughby, Ailsa J Hall, Mark P Dagleish

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Microbial pollution of the marine environment through land-sea transfer of human and livestock pathogens is of concern. Salmonella was isolated from rectal swabs of free-ranging and stranded grey seal pups (21.1%; 37/175) and compared to strains from the same serovars isolated from human clinical cases, livestock, wild mammals and birds in Scotland, UK to characterise possible transmission routes using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multi-locus variable number of tandem repeat (MLVA) analyses. A higher prevalence of Salmonella was found in pups exposed to sea-water, suggesting that this may represent a source of this pathogen. Salmonella Bovismorbificans was the most common isolate (18.3% pups; 32/175) and was indistinguishable from isolates found in Scottish cattle. Salmonella Typhimurium was infrequent (2.3% pups; 4/175), mostly similar to isolates found in garden birds and, in one case, identical to a highly multidrug resistant strain isolated from a human child. Salmonella Haifa was rare (1.1% pups; 2/175) but isolates were indistinguishable from that of a human clinical isolate. These results suggest that S. Bovismorbificans may circulate between grey seal and cattle populations and that both S. Typhimurium and S. Haifa isolates are shared with humans, raising concerns of microbial marine pollution.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1087
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016

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