Pathologic findings in road-killed Lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) in the Brazilian Cerrado

Pedro Enrique Navas-Suárez, Josué Díaz-Delgado, Renata Carolina Fernandes-Santos, Caroline Testa-José, Emília Patrícia Medici, José Luiz Catão-Dias

The lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is the largest land mammal in South America. The species is listed as vulnerable to extinction, has a steady population decline and its main threats in Brazil include poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, road-kill, pesticide poisoning, competition with domestic livestock, and fires. Little information is available on natural disease causes for this species. This study aimed at reporting the pathologic findings recorded in a cohort of 35 lowland tapirs that died due to motor vehicle collision (MVC) ‘road-killed’ in Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil, between 2015 and 2018. The main gross pathologic findings were those associated with MVC, primarily involving bone fractures and internal multiorgan rupture with extensive bleeding and/or severe central nervous system injury. The most prevalent none related to the cause of death observed by histopathology were: adrenocortical atrophy, fibrosis and loss of reticular and fascicular cells (9/15; 60%), interstitial pneumonia (20/34; 59%), glossitis (9/24; 38%), pulmonary anthracosis (12/34; 35%), colitis (9/28; 32%) and cholangitis/pericholangitis (9/35; 26%). Various novel pathologic findings or disease processes were also observed. The etiopathogeneses and clinicopathologic significance of some of these findings are unclear: However, parasitic disease appears to be very common. These results expand the existing information upon tapir pathology and establish baseline pathology information for the species in Brazil. Also, our findings may prove of value to veterinarians and diagnosticians, as well as future conservation policies.

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