About this Research Topic
Marine mammal strandings are global events that have been reported as far back as Aristotle’s time. Stranding events may involve a singular individual or a mass event that involves many individual marine mammals. Additionally, more recently, Unusual Mortality Events (UMEs) (i.e. marine mammal strandings which occur at significantly elevated rates) have been reported in various geographic regions. Many marine mammal stranding events are associated with significant pathologic findings which likely resulted in disease leading to the stranding event itself. In other strandings, particularly mass stranding events, the cause(s) of the stranding are enigmatic with little or no associated pathology which would suggest a reason for the stranding. Importantly, many of the diseases now characterized from marine mammal strandings involve emerging pathogens that have population and environmental health significance. Despite the significant advances in molecular disease diagnostics, characterization of gross and histopathologic findings remains the gold standard for characterizing the morphologic features of disease and often disease etiology using specialized tools such as immunohistochemistry. Marine mammal clinical pathology parameters are being increasingly documented from both stranded marine mammals and free-ranging marine mammal health assessments. Additionally, understanding the pathologic basis of disease and causes of mortality in stranded marine mammals is the first step in evaluating aquatic ecosystem health. In this light, recent studies have demonstrated that marine mammals are important sentinel animals that indicate environmental health concerns and parallel emerging public health issues.
The objective of this Research Topic is to provide a series of original research and review articles of the gross, histopathologic and clinicopathologic findings found in stranded marine mammals from a global research perspective. Manuscripts describing the gross, microscopic and clinicopathologic findings associated with stranded marine mammals including infectious disease and noninfectious disease and those conditions that may or may not have been associated with the actual stranding event will be accepted for review. Manuscripts are encouraged especially from geographic areas not historically well-covered in the marine mammal stranding literature. The integration of the pathologic findings from a global rather than regional perspective in a single Research Topic format will provide a novel comparative pathologic approach identifying pathologic findings common to specific geographic regions and, in turn, help to characterize emerging or re-emerging disease patterns that may be of value to marine biologists, pathologists, epidemiologists, marine mammal veterinarians and other caregivers. The Research Topic will also provide important management information for future conservation policies.
Keywords: Pathology, Stranded marine mammals, Cetacean, Pinniped, Otter, Manatee
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