Leptospirosis in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) stranded along the California coast

Kathleen M. Colegrove, Linda J. Lowenstine, Frances M.D. Gulland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leptospirosis was identified in six northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostis) that were stranded in 1995 along the coast of California (USA). Histologic lesions in all seals included tubulointerstitial nephritis with tubular degeneration and necrosis. Infection was confirmed through identification of spirochetes using an immunohistochemical stain for Leptospira sp. antigens. One affected seal had an elevated titer to Leptospira interrogans serovar pomona. Four of the six seals developed leptospirosis during rehabilitation, and two seals had evidence of exposure in the wild. Potential sources of infection during rehabilitation include other elephant seals, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsii), or free-ranging wildlife. These results indicate that northern elephant seals are susceptible to leptospirosis and can develop disease both in the natural environment and in a rehabilitation setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-430
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leptospira interrogans serovar pomona
  • Leptospirosis
  • Mirounga angustirostris
  • Nephritis
  • Northern elephant seal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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