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Disease of the Common Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus): Crassicaudiosis of the Urinary System

Richard H. Lambertsen
Journal of Mammalogy
Vol. 67, No. 2 (May, 1986), pp. 353-366
DOI: 10.2307/1380889
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1380889
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Disease of the Common Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus): Crassicaudiosis of the Urinary System
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Abstract

Eighty-seven fin whales taken from the North Atlantic were systematically necropsied to investigate the occurrence, levels, and mechanisms of disease which could cause mortality in this species. Crassicauda infection was found to be prevalent, deeply invasive, and probably capable of causing death. The giant nematode Crassicauda boopis was present in 82 (94.3%) of the whales examined. Adult C. boopis presented with their tails in the renal ductwork and their bodies in the renal veins and vena cava. The bodies of the worms were typically enveloped by exuberent tissue reactions which in some whales obstructed multiple renal veins. Transmission of this parasite was by environmental contamination and involved shedding of larvae in the urine. Ingestion of larvae, followed by somatic larval migration to the kidney, was strongly suggested by the finding of extensive inflammatory lesions of the mesenteric arteries in which nematode larvae occurred. From these observations it appears that truly severe C. boopis infections in fin whales could be lethal by inducing congestive renal failure, and that moderate infections cause extensive injury to the vascular system. This implies that the yearly feeding migration of fin whales into circumpolar waters is associated with a definite pathological risk.

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