Marine mammal zoonoses: a review of disease manifestations

Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Dec;59(8):521-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01492.x. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Marine mammals evoke strong public affection as well as considerable scientific interest. However, the resultant close contact with marine wildlife poses human health risks, including traumatic injury and zoonotic disease transmission. The majority of zoonotic marine mammal diseases result in localized skin infections in man that resolve spontaneously or with appropriate medical therapy. However, other marine mammal zoonoses, if left untreated, induce life-threatening systemic diseases that could pose public health risks. As the number of zoonotic diseases rises, the diagnosis of and treatment for these emerging pathogens pose special challenges requiring the expertise of physicians, veterinarians and wildlife biologists. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the bacterial, viral and fungal marine mammal zoonotic diseases that we hope will be utilized by public health professionals, physicians, veterinarians and wildlife biologists to better understand, diagnose and prevent marine mammal zoonotic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / microbiology*
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Mycoses / veterinary*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Diseases / veterinary*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*
  • Zoonoses / virology