Published Date: 2007-08-31 15:00:13
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Cetacean morbillivirus, dolphins - Spain
Archive Number: 20070831.2866
CETACEAN MORBILLIVIRUS, DOLPHINS - SPAIN
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Thu 30 Aug 2007
Source: Reuters Africa [edited]
Spain has asked authorities around the Mediterranean and adjoining
seas for help in monitoring an infection that threatens a protected
species of dolphin, warning it may become an epidemic.
"The virus identified is practically the same one which provoked a
massive epidemic in the 1990s and could affect other species of the
whale family, such as pilot whales", the Environment Ministry said in
a statement late on Wednesday [29 Aug 2007].
Morbillivirus, a potentially fatal infection, which causes measles in
its human form, was found in dead striped dolphins [_Stenella
coeruleoalba_; see picture at
<http://www.answers.com/topic/stripeddolpin-jpg>] -- a protected
species -- washed up on beaches in Spain, it said.
The ministry did not say how many dolphins had been affected but a
report in newspaper El Mundo on Wednesday [29 Aug 2007] said dozens
had been killed.
Spain asked countries along the Mediterranean basin to collect
samples from any animals infected to help track the disease more effectively.
Spanish regional governments and environmental experts will meet to
discuss the issue on 13 Sep 2007.
[The following abstract is derived from the paper of Di Guardo G et
al: Morbillivirus infections in aquatic mammals: a brief overview. J
Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2005 Mar; 52(2):88-93.
"Since 1987, at least 8 morbillivirus infection (MI) epidemics have
caused mass mortality of several free-living pinniped and cetacean
populations around the world. The responsible agents, all belonging
to the genus _Morbillivirus_ (family _Paramyxoviridae_), have been
characterized as either "canine distemper virus" strains, infecting
pinnipeds, or as 3 new morbilliviruses, namely "phocid (phocine)
distemper virus", "porpoise morbillivirus", and "dolphin
morbillivirus". The last 2 agents are currently gathered under the
common denomination of "cetacean morbillivirus". At post-mortem
examination, a commonly occurring macroscopic lesion is represented
by more or less severe bilateral pneumonia, with consolidation,
congestion, and oedema of both lungs, which fail to collapse.
Histologically, a non-suppurative broncho-interstitial pneumonia,
characterized by type II pneumocyte hyperplasia and by formation of
endobronchial, endobronchiolar, and endoalveolar "Warthin-Finkeldey
type" syncytia, as well as a multifocal, non-suppurative
encephalitis, associated with a severe and generalized lymphoid
tissue depletion, are common pathological findings. Furthermore,
eosinophilic viral inclusions are often detected, at both the
intracytoplasmic and intranuclear level, within bronchial and
bronchiolar epithelial, pulmonary syncytial, neuronal, and other cell
types. These inclusions, along with lymphoid and other cellular
elements, are often found to be immunohistochemically positive for
morbillivirus antigen. Among the still debated, or even controversial
issues regarding MI in sea mammals, the one related to the origin of
their causative agents is of particular concern. Another intriguing
issue regards the synergistic effects, if any, associated with
chronic exposure to a number of environmental pollutants, such as
organochlorines and heavy metals. In fact, it is also unknown whether
and how these chemicals contribute towards modulating the pathogenic
and pathogenetic activity primarily displayed by sea mammal morbilliviruses".
Alertness is required in other Mediterranean countries. - Mod.AS]