Can Manatees Catch The Common Cold?

David Schrichte manatee photo
Currently, there is not much known about diseases in manatees. There is a thought that manatees may not be living long enough to become susceptible to diseases seen in longer-lived mammals.


Q. What is the most common disease for manatees? Can manatees catch the common cold?

--Claire Widmann, Massachusetts

A. There is not much known about diseases in manatees. Currently, it is unknown if they are able to get the common cold (although they are very susceptible to dying from cold stress or even cold shock when they canít reach or there are not enough warm-water refuges for them). They have been known to get diseases such as papilloma viruses, pneumonia, and upper respiratory infections. The first case of cancer in manatees was also identified a few years ago. There is a thought that manatees may not be living long enough to become susceptible to diseases seen in longer-lived mammals.

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