FatalFusarium solanispecies complex infections in elasmobranchs: the first case report for black spotted stingray (Taeniura melanopsila) and a literature review

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SummaryFusarium species are environmental saprophytic fungi. Among the many Fusarium species, members of the Fusarium solani species complex (FSSC) are the most prevalent and virulent in causing human and animal infections. In this study, we describe the first case of fatal FSSC infection in a black spotted stingray and three concomitant infections in scalloped hammerhead sharks. In the stingray, cutaneous lesions were characterised by ulcers and haemorrhage of the ventral pectoral fin, or ‘ray’, especially around the head; while cutaneous lesions in the sharks were characterised by ulcers, haemorrhage, as well as white and purulent exudates at the cephalic canals of the cephalofoil and lateral line. Histological sections of the cutaneous lesions revealed slender (1–4 μm in diameter), branching, septate fungal hyphae. Internal transcribed spacer region and 28S nrDNA sequencing of the fungal isolates from the fish showed two isolates were F. keratoplasticum (FSSC 2) and the other two were FSSC 12. Environmental investigation revealed the FSSC strains isolated from water and biofilms in tanks that housed the elasmobranchs were also F. keratoplasticum and FSSC 12. Fusarium is associated with major infections in elasmobranchs and FSSC 12 is an emerging cause of infections in marine animals. DNA sequencing is so far the most reliable method for accurate identification of Fusarium species.

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