U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Immune status and function in harbor seal pups during the course of rehabilitation

H. Frouin, M. Haulena, L.M.F. Akhurst, S.A. Raverty, P.S. Ross
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2013 v.155 no.1-2 pp. 98-109
Phoca vitulina, albumins, anions, aquariums, bicarbonates, bilirubin, blood sampling, calcium, eosinophils, erythrocytes, glucose, hemoglobin, immunoglobulin G, lymphocytes, normal values, osmolality, phagocytosis, phosphorus, potassium, pups, seals, sodium, urea
Routine hematological and serum chemistry parameters are important tools for the evaluation of health and the treatment of marine mammals admitted to rehabilitation centers. The evaluation of phagocytosis, oxidative burst and immunoglobulin G (IgG), as markers of immune system function, and haptoglobin (Hp), as a stress marker, were evaluated alongside routine hematology and chemistry as potentially informative diagnostic tools for marine mammal health assessments. Blood samples from harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina) admitted to (n=46), and released from (n=28), the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Center (VAMMRC) were collected (1) to perform routine and novel functional approaches to evaluate the health of pups at admission; (2) to determine how these parameters changed during the rehabilitation process; and (3) to generate baseline values for reference purposes. Sodium was the only blood parameter which differed between seal pups that survived and those that died, with the surviving pups exhibiting higher levels on admission diagnostics. Positive correlations between total protein concentrations, IgG and Hp levels were observed with globulin concentrations of seal pups. Changes in serum chemistry values between admission and release included a decrease in red blood cells (RBCs), glucose, bicarbonate, total bilirubin, γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT) levels, and an increase in mean cell volume (MCV), mean cell hemoglobin (MCH), mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), lymphocytes, eosinophils, urea, potassium, anion gap, calcium, phosphorus, total protein, albumin, globulin and osmolality levels. During the rehabilitation process, phagocytosis decreased, while Hp levels increased. Age and improved health appeared to underlie changes in these parameters during the rehabilitation period.