Objective: To identify risk factors that may predispose California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) to development of cutaneous poxvirus nodules during hospitalization in a rehabilitation center.
Design: Retrospective case-control study.
Animals: 90 California sea lions admitted to a rehabilitation center.
Procedure: Hospital records of 275 stranded California sea lions admitted to the rehabilitation center between January 1 and December 31, 2002, were reviewed. All California sea lions (n = 18) that developed > or = 1 cutaneous poxvirus nodule during hospitalization were classified as cases. Seventy-two California sea lions that did not develop poxvirus lesions during hospitalization were randomly selected (control group). The frequencies of various exposure factors prior to admission, at admission, and during hospitalization for cases and control sea lions were compared by use of logistic regression.
Results: California sea lions that had previously been admitted to the rehabilitation center were 43 times as likely to develop poxvirus lesions as sea lions admitted for the first time; those with high band neutrophil counts (> 0.69 X 10(3) bands/microL) at admission were 20 times less likely to develop poxvirus lesions than sea lions with counts within reference limits.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results suggest that sea lions with a history of prior hospitalization or band neutrophil counts within reference limits at admission were more likely to develop poxvirus lesions during hospitalization. Sea lions with histories of hospitalization should be kept in quarantine and infection control measures implemented to help prevent disease transmission to attending personnel and other hospitalized animals.