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1.  Enteric bacterial pathogen detection in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) is associated with coastal urbanization and freshwater runoff 
Veterinary Research  2009;41(1):01.
Although protected for nearly a century, California’s sea otters have been slow to recover, in part due to exposure to fecally-associated protozoal pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona. However, potential impacts from exposure to fecal bacteria have not been systematically explored. Using selective media, we examined feces from live and dead sea otters from California for specific enteric bacterial pathogens (Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, C. difficile and Escherichia coli O157:H7), and pathogens endemic to the marine environment (Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and Plesiomonas shigelloides). We evaluated statistical associations between detection of these pathogens in otter feces and demographic or environmental risk factors for otter exposure, and found that dead otters were more likely to test positive for C. perfringens, Campylobacter and V. parahaemolyticus than were live otters. Otters from more urbanized coastlines and areas with high freshwater runoff (near outflows of rivers or streams) were more likely to test positive for one or more of these bacterial pathogens. Other risk factors for bacterial detection in otters included male gender and fecal samples collected during the rainy season when surface runoff is maximal. Similar risk factors were reported in prior studies of pathogen exposure for California otters and their invertebrate prey, suggesting that land-sea transfer and/or facilitation of pathogen survival in degraded coastal marine habitat may be impacting sea otter recovery. Because otters and humans share many of the same foods, our findings may also have implications for human health.
doi:10.1051/vetres/2009049
PMCID: PMC2769548  PMID: 19720009
Campylobacter; Clostridium; sea otter; Salmonella; Vibrio
2.  Risk Factors for Infection with Pathogenic and Antimicrobial-Resistant Fecal Bacteria in Northern Elephant Seals in California 
Public Health Reports  2008;123(3):360-370.
SYNOPSIS
Objectives
The goal of this study was to identify potential environmental and demographic factors associated with Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), Salmonella enterica (Salmonella spp.), and antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection in northern elephant seals stranded along the California coastline.
Methods
E. coli, Salmonella spp., and C. jejuni were isolated from rectal swabs from 196 juvenile northern elephant seals, which were found stranded and alive along the California coast and brought to The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, for rehabilitation. Gender, weight, county where the animal stranded, month stranded, coastal human population density, exposure to sewage outfall or freshwater outflow (river or stream), and cumulative precipitation in the previous 24 hours, seven days, 30 days, 90 days, and 180 days were analyzed as potential risk factors for infection.
Results
The odds of C. jejuni and antimicrobial-resistant E. coli were higher in feces of seals stranded at sites with higher levels of freshwater outflow compared with lower levels of freshwater outflow. The odds of Salmonella spp. in feces were 5.4 times greater in seals stranded in locations with lower levels of 30-day cumulative precipitation, along with substantially lower odds of Salmonella shedding for seals stranded in Monterey or Santa Cruz county compared with seals stranded in regions further north or south of this central California location.
Conclusions
Juvenile northern elephant seals that have entered the water are being colonized by antimicrobial-resistant and pathogenic fecal bacteria that may be acquired from terrestrial sources transmitted via river and surface waters.
PMCID: PMC2289989  PMID: 19006978

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