Prostatic Lesions in Odontocete Cetaceans

Vet Pathol. 2018 May;55(3):466-472. doi: 10.1177/0300985818755252. Epub 2018 Feb 5.


The prostate is the only accessory male genital gland described in cetaceans. Although few studies describe the gross and histologic anatomy of the prostate in cetaceans, there is no information on pathological findings involving this organ. The prostate glands of 45 cetaceans, including 8 different odontocete species ( n = 44) and 1 mysticete, were evaluated. The main pathologic diagnoses were verminous prostatitis, septic prostatitis, viral prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostatitis of unknown etiology. Verminous prostatitis ( n = 12) was caused by nematodes of the genus Crassicauda, and different presentations were observed. Septic prostatitis, identified in 2 cases, both involved nematode infestation and Clostridium spp coinfection. One case of viral prostatitis was identified and was associated with morbillivirus infection. In prostatitis of unknown cause ( n = 7), varying degrees of prostatic lesions, mostly chronic inflammation, were identified. Impacts at individual levels (eg, localized disease, loss of reproductive capacity) and population levels (eg, decreased reproductive success) are plausible. Our results indicate a high occurrence of prostatic lesions in free-ranging odontocetes. For this reason, the prostate should be routinely inspected and sampled during necropsy of odontocete cetaceans.

Keywords: Crassicauda; benign prostatic hyperplasia; cetacean; dolphins; morbillivirus; prostate gland; prostatitis; urogenital system; whales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Bacterial Infections / veterinary
  • Cetacea*
  • Male
  • Morbillivirus / isolation & purification
  • Morbillivirus Infections / pathology
  • Morbillivirus Infections / veterinary
  • Prostate / microbiology
  • Prostate / parasitology
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostatic Diseases / microbiology
  • Prostatic Diseases / parasitology
  • Prostatic Diseases / pathology
  • Prostatic Diseases / veterinary*
  • Virus Diseases / veterinary
  • Virus Diseases / virology