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Arch Virol. 2008;153(1):187-92. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

In search of virus carriers of the 1988 and 2002 phocine distemper virus outbreaks in European harbour seals.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany.


European harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) populations decreased substantially during the phocine distemper virus (PDV) outbreaks of 1988 and 2002. Different hypotheses have stated that various seals and terrestrial carnivore species might be the source of infection. To further analyse these hypotheses, grey (Halichoerus grypus) and ringed (Phoca hispida) seals, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and minks (Mustela lutreola) were sampled from the North Sea and East Greenland coasts between 1988 and 2004 and investigated by RT-PCR using a panmorbillivirus primer pair. However, all samples were negative for morbillivirus nucleic acid.

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