Disseminated fungal infection in two species of captive sharks

David P. Marancik, Aimee L. Berliner, Julie M. Cavin, Tonya M. Clauss, Alistair D.M. Dove, Deanna A. Sutton, Brian L. Wickes, Alvin C. Camus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this report, two cases of systemic mycosis in captive sharks are characterized. These cases were progressive and ultimately culminated in terminal disease. Paecilomyces lilacinus, an uncommon pathogen in human and veterinary medicine, was associated with areas of necrosis in the liver, heart, and gill in a great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran). Fungal growth was observed from samples of kidney, spleen, spinal fluid, and coelomic cavity swabs. Dual fungal infection by Exophiala pisciphila and Mucor circinelloides was diagnosed in a juvenile zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum). Both fungi were present in the liver, with more severe tissue destruction associated with E. pisciphila. E. pisciphila also produced significant necrosis in the spleen and gill, while M. circinelloides was associated with only minimal tissue changes in the heart. Fungal cultures from liver, kidney, and spleen were positive for both E. pisciphila and M. circinelloides. Identification of P. lilacinus and M. circinelloides was based on colonial and hyphal morphology. E. pisciphila was identified by sequence analysis of the 28S rRNA D1/D2 region and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region between the 18S and 28S rRNA subunit. These cases, and a lack of information in the literature, highlight the need for further research and diagnostic sampling to further characterize the hostpathogen interaction between elasmobranchs and fungi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-693
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Elasmobranch
  • Exophiala pisciphila
  • Mucor circinelloides
  • Paecilomyces lilacinus
  • Sphyrna mokarran
  • Stegostoma fasciatum
  • mycosis
  • shark

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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