Disease in elasmobranchs

Most of us are specialized on pet medicine but few on exotic animal medicine. We seldom regard wild animals as a matter of our veterinary condition though they are the essence of the animal kingdom. Articles like this on sharks and rays are examples that attempt to change this view and remember our profession.


In this paper, the authors review cases of illness in 1546 elasmobranchs representing 60 different species of sharks and rays. The results of the study reveal that infectious and inflammatory processes, followed by nutritional, traumatic, and toxic cardiovascular disorders are the most common diseases in elasmobranchs. Bacterial infections usually manifest as septicemia, dermatitis, branchitis and enteritis, and similarly fungal infections also cause hepatitis. Papilloma virus, herpesvirus and adenovirus are among the most common viral processes. Parasitic in its turn are represented by cases nematode infections, ciliate, trematode, coccidiosis, mixozoanosis, amebiasis, flagellate infections and cestoidiasis. Infectious diseases of unknown etiology include cases of enteritis, branchitis, encephalitis, dermatitis and pancreatitis. Finally, the most common toxicologic disorders are cases of “toxic gill disease”, air embolism, and those associated with fenbendazole, ammoniac, chlorine and chloramine. Depending on the process, some species are overrepresented.

A retrospective study of disease in elasmobranchs. Garner MM. Vet Pathol. 2013 50(3):377-389


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