Forensic microbiology reveals that Neisseria animaloris infections in harbour porpoises follow traumatic injuries by grey seals
Foster, Geoffrey; Whatmore, Adrian M.; Dagleish, Mark P.; Malnick, Henry; Gilbert, Maarten J.; Begeman, Lineke; Macgregor, Shaheed K.; Davison, Nicholas J.; Roest, Hendrik Jan; Jepson, Paul; Howie, Fiona; Muchowski, Jakub; Brownlow, Andrew C.; Wagenaar, Jaap A.; Kik, Marja J.L.; Deaville, Rob; Doeschate, Mariel T.I. ten; Barley, Jason; Hunter, Laura; IJsseldijk, Lonneke L.
Neisseria animaloris is considered to be a commensal of the canine and feline oral cavities. It is able to cause systemic infections in animals as well as humans, usually after a biting trauma has occurred. We recovered N. animaloris from chronically inflamed bite wounds on pectoral fins and tailstocks, from lungs and other internal organs of eight harbour porpoises. Gross and histopathological evidence suggest that fatal disseminated N. animaloris infections had occurred due to traumatic injury from grey seals. We therefore conclude that these porpoises survived a grey seal predatory attack, with the bite lesions representing the subsequent portal of entry for bacteria to infect the animals causing abscesses in multiple tissues, and eventually death. We demonstrate that forensic microbiology provides a useful tool for linking a perpetrator to its victim. Moreover, N. animaloris should be added to the list of potential zoonotic bacteria following interactions with seals, as the finding of systemic transfer to the lungs and other tissues of the harbour porpoises may suggest a potential to do likewise in humans.