The liver can be an indicator of the health of an individual or of a group, which can be especially important to identify agents that can cause disease in multiple species. To better characterize hepatic lesions in stranded harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), we analyzed the livers from 39 porpoises that stranded along the Dutch coast between December 2008 and December 2012. The animals were selected because they had either gross or histologic liver lesions with minimal autolysis and no evidence of trematode (Campula oblonga) infection. The most common finding was a chronic hepatitis (22/39, 56.4%) that was often associated with significant disease reported in another organ system (18/22, 81.8%), of which 14 had chronic systemic disease. One case of chronic hepatitis was so severe as to mimic lymphoma, which could only be differentiated with immunohistochemistry. The other common lesions were lipidosis (11/39, 28.2%) and acute hepatitis (6/39, 15.4%), often in combination with mild chronic changes. Overall, although there were no consistent trends in etiology for the hepatic lesions, lipidosis was associated with starvation (8/11, 72.7%) and acute disease, and acute hepatitis was associated with bacterial infections and sepsis (6/6, 100%).

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Veterinary Pathology
Department of Virology

Hiemstra, S, Harkema, L, Wiersma, L.C.M, & Keesler, R.I. (2015). Beyond Parasitism: Hepatic Lesions in Stranded Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) Without Trematode (Campula oblonga) Infections. Veterinary Pathology, 52(6), 1243–1249. doi:10.1177/0300985814560233