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Leptospirosis Infections Spike In CA Sea Lions - Researchers Puzzled By Change

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-29-08 12:35 PM
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Leptospirosis Infections Spike In CA Sea Lions - Researchers Puzzled By Change
California sea lions in the Monterey Bay have had a bad year as bacterial infections have risen among the marine mammals. Researchers from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito are trying to understand why.

Researchers report this year more than 100 animals tested at the center have had leptospirosis -- a bacterial disease that affects the kidneys and can be deadly if animals are left untreated. "And we are still in the midst of our year," says Dr. Jeffrey Boehm, executive director at the Marine Mammal Center. "When we tally the numbers up, we're going to see another year like one of those surge years."

Every four to five years since the 1970s, the Marine Mammal Center has seen a surge in the number of leptospirosis outbreaks in California sea lions. During these years, the center sees a ten-fold increase in the number of infections, to as much as 45 percent of the population, according to Boehm.

Most of the sick animals this year are coming from Monterey Bay and farther south, the center reports. Staff at the center do their best to nurse infected animals back to health, but the center is also trying to determine when and why the sea lions contracted the disease in the first place.

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