Fusarium spp. are saprobic moulds that are responsible for severe opportunistic infections in humans and animals. However, we need epidemiological tools to reliably trace the circulation of such fungal strains within medical or veterinary facilities, to recognize environmental contaminations that might lead to infection and to improve our understanding of factors responsible for the onset of outbreaks. In this study, we used molecular genotyping to investigate clustered cases of Fusarium solani species complex (FSSC) infection that occurred in eight Sphyrnidae sharks under managed care at a public aquarium. Genetic relationships between fungal strains were determined by multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) analysis based on DNA sequencing at five loci, followed by comparison with sequences of 50 epidemiologically unrelated FSSC strains. Our genotyping approach revealed that F. keratoplasticum and F. solani haplotype 9x were most commonly isolated. In one case, the infection proved to be with another Hypocrealian rare opportunistic pathogen Metarhizium robertsii. Twice, sharks proved to be infected with FSSC strains with the same MLST sequence type, supporting the hypothesis the hypothesis that common environmental populations of fungi existed for these sharks and would suggest the longtime persistence of the two clonal strains within the environment, perhaps in holding pools and life support systems of the aquarium. This study highlights how molecular tools like MLST can be used to investigate outbreaks of microbiological disease. This work reinforces the need for regular controls of water quality to reduce microbiological contamination due to waterborne microorganisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases