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    Detection of anti-brucella antibodies in Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) from Cape Shirreff, Antarctica

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    O. Blank, P. Retamal, P. Abalos and D. Torres (Chile)
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    A serological study was initiated to determine the presence of anti-Brucella antibodies on marine mammals of Antarctica. For this study, blood and extra vascular fluid samples was taken from 12 Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) at the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Nº 32 and CCAMLRa Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) site N° 2 “Cape Shirreff and San Telmo Islets” (62º 47’ S; 60º 27’ W), located on the Livingston Island (South Shetland Islands), Antarctica. Field work was carried out as part of Project 018 "Ecological studies on the Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella" of the “Instituto Antártico Chileno” (INACH) and the laboratory analysis at the Departamento de Medicina Preventiva Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias of the Universidad de Chile.
    The samples were tested by the conventional Rose Bengal test (RB) and two competitive enzymatic immunoassay: Compelisa®?(Veterinary Laboratories Agency, UK) and c-ELISA (FAO/IAEA, 1994). In five of the total samples studied, anti-Brucella antibodies were detected and the enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (Compelisa®) were the most sensible tests.
    These results strongly confirm the presence of infections by bacteria of the genus Brucella in L. weddellii and point out the necessity of complementary studies to know the etiology and their infection epidemiology in this region of the world.