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J Comp Pathol. 1998 Oct;119(3):201-25.

Morbillivirus infections in aquatic mammals.


Morbillivirus infections which were not documented in aquatic mammals until 1988, have caused at least five epizootics in these species during the last 10 years. Affected populations include European harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in 1998, Baikal seals (Phoca siberica) in Siberia from 1987-1988, striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) in the Mediterranean Sea from 1990-1992 and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) along the eastern coast of the United States from 1987-1988 and in the Gulf of Mexico from 1993-1994. Clinical signs and lesions in affected animals were similar to those of canine distemper. Lesions were mainly seen in lung, central nervous and lymphoid tissues and included formation of intranuclear and intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies. Syncytia were commonly found in lung and lymphoid tissues of cetaceans but not of pinnipeds. Antigenic and molecular biological studies indicate that a newly discovered morbillivirus, termed phocine distemper virus, and canine distemper virus were responsible for recent pinniped epizootics; cetacean die-offs were caused by strains of a second, newly recognized cetacean morbillivirus. Serological evidence of morbillivirus infection has been identified in a broad range of marine mammal populations and recent epizootics probably resulted from transfer of virus to immunologically-naive populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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