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Mammals (other)
Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) associated dolphin mortality and the subsequent facility decolonisation protocol
  1. Claudia Gili1,
  2. Barbara Biancani1,
  3. Frances Gulland2 and
  4. Sandro Mazzariol3
  1. 1Department of Science and Veterinary Services, Costa Edutainment SpA, Italy
  2. 2The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padua, Legnaro, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claudia Gili; cgili{at}


This case reports the presence of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a colony of cetaceans maintained under human care. MRSA isolates of the same strain were cultured from multiple organs of two dolphins that died with septicaemia. Following these mortalities and in consideration of the zoonotic potential of this pathogen, a decolonisation protocol was developed and applied to reduce the risk of exposure to humans and animals. After monitoring for MRSA presence in the animals, environment and staff, a strict sanitation protocol was applied for 15 months, with the aim of controlling MRSA. This protocol reduced the incidence of this pathogen and its involvement in acute clinical cases. The transmission between cetaceans and the implication of human reservoirs are discussed as important issues for veterinarians, facility managers and public health officials.

  • infectious diseases
  • microbiology
  • environmental
  • cetaceans
  • decolonisation
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  • Contributors CG created the concept of the study, analysed the data, wrote the article, shared the information with other coauthors and submitted. BB and SM worked on the acquisition and interpretation of data and participated in the layout of the article. FG revised the protocol concept and the results reviewing the article with important intellectual input.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There is no additional data available for this paper.

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