Between 1994 and 2000, 141 Arcanobacterium phocae isolates were recovered from marine mammals that stranded along the central California coast (USA). Arcanobacterium phocae was cultured from tissue sites with abnormal discharge or evidence of inflammation in 66 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), 50 Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii), 19 northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), five southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), and one common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). The overall prevalence of A. phocae among cultured stranded marine mammals was 8%. This is the first report of A. phocae in animals from the Pacific Ocean. Sequence analysis of a portion of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene confirmed recent isolates as A. phocae. Prior to phylogenetic testing and the routine use of the esculin hydrolysis and motility tests, A. phocae isolates may have been misidentified as Listeria ivanovii. Arcanobacterium phocae was commonly isolated from superficial abscesses, was often present in mixed infections, and was susceptible to all antimicrobial agents tested.

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