Diseases of large marine vertebrates


2 CFU (24 hours)

Infectious diseases with viral and bacterial aetiology

Course description: this course will provide to learners the knowledge about infectious diseases of both wild and captive large marine vertebrates. Major viral and bacterial infections of marine mammals, sea turtles and elasmobranches will be illustrated and discussed through the analysis of practical cases and international literature. Zoonosis and public health issues will be addressed. At the end of the course, the students will be able to recognize and manage major health issues related to large marine vertebrates handling.

Syllabus Content


Virus-host interaction. Major viral diseases of marine mammals: morbillivirus, herpesvirus, poxvirus. Overview of other minor viral infections. Major viral diseases of sea turtle: Herpesvirus infection (Fibropapillomatosis and chelonid fibropapilloma associated herpesvirus, grey patch disease), papillomavirus and overview of other less impacting viral infections. Viral infections of elasmobranches (herpesvirus, iridovirus, adenovirus). Diagnostic and control approaches to viral diseases of LMV.

Specific bacterial infection/diseases of marine mammals: brucellosis, Erysipelotrix rhusiopathiae infection, mycobacterial infections and overview of other minor bacterial infections. Bacteria associated with infection in sea turtles, mycobacterial infections. Bacterial infections of elasmobranches (Vibrio spp., Aeromonas spp.). Diagnostic and control approaches to bacterial diseases of LMV.

Parasitic Diseases of Large Marine Vertebrates

The content of the course will be:

  • Parasitic infection vs. parasitic disease; role of parasites on LMV health in wild and confined environment
  • Toxoplasmosis in marine mammals
  • Cryptosporidiosis in Marine mammals and other protozoan diseases in LVM
  • Parasitic infections due to metazoans in LVM 
  • New acquisitions on cestode infections in marine mammals- SEMINAR BY PROF. T SCHOLZ (R. KUCHTA), Academy of Science of Czech Republic
  • Digenean Spirorchiidae: a global threat for sea turtles-SEMINAR BY DR. FEDERICA MARCER, University of Padua
  • Main mycotic diseases in LVM
  • Standard methods in LVM parasitology.
  • Collection and sampling management of LVM parasites.


Dr. Andrea Gustinelli

Dr. Sara Ciulli