Marine mammal zoonoses: A review of disease manifestations

T. B. Waltzek, G. Cortés-Hinojosa, J. F.X. Wellehan, Gregory C. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-535
Number of pages15
JournalZoonoses and Public Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Marine mammals
  • One health
  • Zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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