Aarhus University Seal

Seroprevalence for Brucella spp. in Baltic ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and East Greenland harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and hooded (Cystophora cristata) seals

New publication by Christian Sonne, Emilie Andersen-Ranberg, Elisabeth L. Rajal, Jørgen S. Agerholm, Eva Bonefeld-Jørgensen, Jean-Pierre Desforges, Igor Eulaers, Bjørn M.Jenssen, Anders Koch, Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid, Ursula Siebert, Morten Tryland, Gert Mulvad, Tero Härkönen, Mario Acquaronem, Erling S. Nordøy Rune Dietz, Ulf Magnusson

Ringed seal. Photo: Carsten Egevang


Zoonotic infections transmitted from marine mammals to humans in the Baltic and European Arctic are of unknown significance, despite given considerable potential for transmission due to local hunt. Here we present results of an initial screening for Brucella spp. in Arctic and Baltic seal species. Baltic ringed seals (Pusa hispida, n = 12) sampled in October 2015 and Greenland Sea harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicusn = 6) and hooded seals (Cystophora cristatan = 3) sampled in March 2015 were serologically analysed for antibodies against Brucella spp. The serological analyses were performed using the Rose Bengal Test (RBT) followed by a confirmatory testing of RBT-positive samples by a competitive-enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (C-ELISA). Two of the Baltic ringed seals (a juvenile male and a juvenile female) were seropositive thus indicating previous exposure to a Brucella spp. The findings indicate that ringed seals in the Baltic ecosystem may be exposed to and possibly infected by Brucella spp. No seropositive individuals were detected among the Greenland harp and hooded seals. Although our initial screening shows a zoonotic hazard to Baltic locals, a more in-depth epidemiological investigation is needed in order to determine the human risk associated with this.


Veterinary Immunology and ImmunopathologyVolume 198, April 2018, Pages 14-18.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetimm.2018.02.005