Novel prevention program for trichinellosis in inuit communities.
Repeated outbreaks of trichinellosis caused by the consumption of Trichinella-infected walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) meat, which have sometimes led to serious morbidity, have stimulated Inuit communities in Nunavik (northern Quebec), Canada, to develop an innovative trichinellosis prevention program. The program involves preconsumption testing of meat samples from harvested walrus at a regional laboratory and the rapid dissemination of the results of such testing to communities. Local health authorities in Inukjuak conducted an epidemiological investigation after testing identified Trichinella-positive walrus meat in September 1997. This report describes the events that occurred before, during, and after the trichinellosis outbreak and also documents how the prevention program contributed to successful resolution of the outbreak. (+info)
Evaluation of a digestion assay and determination of sample size and tissue for the reliable detection of Trichinella larvae in walrus meat.
A digestion assay was validated for the detection of Trichinella larvae in walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) meat, and appropriate samples for testing were determined using tissues from infected walruses harvested for food. Examination of muscles from 3 walruses showed that the tongue consistently contained approximately 2-6 times more larvae than the pectoral and intercostal muscles. Comparison of numbers of larvae in the root, body, and apex of the tongue from 3 walruses failed to identify a predilection site within the tongue, but the apex was considered an optimal tissue because of the high larval density within the tongue and the ease of collection. All 31 spiked samples weighing 50 g each and containing between 0.1 and 0.4 larvae per gram (lpg) were correctly identified as infected, indicating that the sensitivity of this procedure is adequate for diagnostic use. A sample size of 10 g consistently detected larvae in 2 walrus tongues containing > or = 0.3 lpg (n = 40), and until additional data are available, sample sizes from individual walrus tongues should be a minimum of 10 g. This study provides the preliminary data that were used for the development of a food safety analytical protocol for the detection of Trichinella in walrus meat in arctic communities. (+info)
Feeding behaviour of free-ranging walruses with notes on apparent dextrality of flipper use.
BACKGROUND: Direct observations of underwater behaviour of free-living marine mammals are rare. This is particularly true for large and potentially dangerous species such as the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus). Walruses are highly specialised predators on benthic invertebrates - especially bivalves. The unique feeding niche of walruses has led to speculations as to their underwater foraging behaviour. Based on observations of walruses in captivity and signs of predation left on the sea floor by free-living walruses, various types of feeding behaviour have been suggested in the literature. In this study, however, the underwater feeding behaviour of wild adult male Atlantic walruses (O. r. rosmarus) is documented for the first time in their natural habitat by scuba-divers. The video recordings indicated a predisposition for use of the right front flipper during feeding. This tendency towards dextrality was explored further by examining a museum collection of extremities of walrus skeletons. RESULTS: During July and August 2001, twelve video-recordings of foraging adult male walruses were made in Young Sound (74 degrees 18 N; 20 degrees 15 V), Northeast Greenland. The recordings did not allow for differentiation among animals, however based on notes by the photographer at least five different individuals were involved. The walruses showed four different foraging behaviours; removing sediment by beating the right flipper, removing sediment by beating the left flipper, removing sediment by use of a water-jet from the mouth and rooting through sediment with the muzzle. There was a significant preference for using right flipper over left flipper during foraging. Measurements of the dimensions of forelimbs from 23 walrus skeletons revealed that the length of the right scapula, humerus, and ulna was significantly greater than that of the left, supporting our field observations of walruses showing a tendency of dextrality in flipper use. CONCLUSION: We suggest that the four feeding behaviours observed are typical of walruses in general, although walruses in other parts of their range may have evolved other types of feeding behaviour. While based on small sample sizes both the underwater observations and skeletal measurements suggest lateralized limb use, which is the first time this has been reported in a pinniped. (+info)
A major ecosystem shift in the northern Bering Sea.
Until recently, northern Bering Sea ecosystems were characterized by extensive seasonal sea ice cover, high water column and sediment carbon production, and tight pelagic-benthic coupling of organic production. Here, we show that these ecosystems are shifting away from these characteristics. Changes in biological communities are contemporaneous with shifts in regional atmospheric and hydrographic forcing. In the past decade, geographic displacement of marine mammal population distributions has coincided with a reduction of benthic prey populations, an increase in pelagic fish, a reduction in sea ice, and an increase in air and ocean temperatures. These changes now observed on the shallow shelf of the northern Bering Sea should be expected to affect a much broader portion of the Pacific-influenced sector of the Arctic Ocean. (+info)
Is the human-infecting Diphyllobothrium pacificum a valid species or just a South American population of the holarctic fish broad tapeworm, D. latum?
Using ITS2 gene sequences, the validity of the tapeworm Diphyllobothrium pacificum (Nybelin, 1931), infecting humans on the Pacific coast of South America and in Japan, was assessed. ITS2 sequences of this cestode differed markedly (sequence similarity 79.0-80.2%) from those of the most common human-infecting cestode, the broad fish tapeworm Diphyllobothrium latum (L.), as well as other four species of Diphyllobothrium, including potential human parasites (D. cordatum, D. dendriticum, and D. lanceolatum) and two species of Spirometra (sequence similarity 77.5-81.9%). Interspecific sequence similarity between all but one (D. pacificum) species was 86.1-99.6%, whereas individual isolates of D. dendriticum and D. ditremum exhibited intraspecific sequence similarity of 97.0-98.0% and 98.2-99.9%, respectively. Phylogenetic trees constructed from ITS2 sequences show a markedly distant position of D. pacificum from other species analyzed and also indicate the possible paraphyly of Spirometra. (+info)
Lipoproteins in pinnipeds: analysis of a high molecular weight form of apolipoprotein E.
We have examined the apolipoprotein content of the lipoproteins of several marine mammals by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Their apolipoprotein (apo) B-100, apoB-48, and apoA-I migrated to virtually the same position as the comparable human apolipoproteins. In cetaceans (bottlenose dolphins and killer whales), the molecular mass of the apoE was identical to that of human apoE (35 kDa). In contrast, in the lipoproteins of pinnipeds (harbor seals, sea lions, and walrus) there was no protein comparable in size to human apoE; however, there were two proteins in the 40- to 44-kDa range. The protein with the higher apparent molecular weight (44 kDa) was apoA-IV, as determined by NH2-terminal amino acid sequencing. Sequencing of the NH2-terminal 15 amino acids of the lower molecular weight protein (40-42 kDa) revealed no obvious homology with human apoE. However, a human apoE-specific monoclonal antibody, 1D7, bound to the 40- to 42-kDa protein, allowing us to identify that protein as apoE. Sequencing of sea lion apoE cDNA clones demonstrated that sea lion apoE is 311 amino acids in length, 12 residues longer than human apoE. All 12 additional residues are located in the NH2-terminal 31 amino acids, a region that has extremely low homology with the NH2-terminal portion of human apoE. The remainder of the sea lion apoE sequence is 74% homologous to human apoE. The sea lion apoE cDNA was expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells as well as CHO ldlD cells, a cell line that is deficient in O-glycosylation of proteins. The size of the sea lion apoE secreted by these two cell lines, compared with the apoE in sea lion plasma, indicated that the predominant form of apoE in sea lion plasma must be posttranslationally modified. Thus, our studies have demonstrated that the higher apparent molecular weight of pinniped (sea lion) apoE is due to a longer polypeptide chain as well as posttranslational modification of the protein. (+info)
Predator detection enables juvenile Lymnaea to form long-term memory.
Use of human chorionic gonadotropin in a male Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) to induce rut and achieve a pregnancy in a nulliparous female.
Walrus in US zoos have a very low reproductive rate of 11 births in 80 years, and little is known about Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) reproductive biology. To address this, we initiated a program in which detailed biological data were recorded on captive walrus. As part of a 7-year study, 1 male and 1 female 16-year-old captive Pacific walrus were carefully monitored with weekly serum hormone analysis, daily glans penis smears for spermatozoa, and abdominal ultrasound for pregnancy. The female ovulated once annually from late December through mid-January and then exhibited 9 months of sustained elevated progesterone. This nonconceptive estrous cycle profile is consistent with reports from wild walrus females. In contrast, the male's seasonal rut routinely occurred in late February through May with a serum testosterone peak in March. This profile differed from the reported adult male cycle in wild walrus of November through March. During the period of the female's ovulation, the male had nadir testosterone levels and was consistently azoospermic. Likewise, during the male's spermatogenic rut in the spring, the female was anovulatory with elevated progesterone. On this basis, the male was treated for 14 weeks with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in an attempt to increase testosterone levels in synchrony with the female's annual ovulation. The treatment successfully induced rut characterized by sustained elevated serum testosterone levels and production of spermatozoa. The male and female successfully bred, and the female became pregnant. Upon discontinuation of hCG treatment, the male resumed baseline testosterone levels. We theorize that the lack of synchronization of rut and ovulatory cycles is a primary reason for reproductive failure in these captive walrus. (+info)