November 28, 2022

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New virus discovered in dolphin, scientists fear infection

Biologists in Hawaii in the United States have discovered a new strain of the Cetacean morphilivirus. Because the disease causes many dolphin deaths, there are fears of infection as it can spread to other marine mammals.

Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) is a pathogen that causes dangerous infections in marine mammals around the world. The virus was discovered in 2018 by a young male Fraser River dolphin off the coast of Maui. For two years, scientists looked at the body, which, according to their initial observations, appeared to be healthy externally. However, some of his organs showed signs of disease.

In detail in the analysis published in the journal Natural Science Reports, If no details are specified in the chest and abdomen, it is not the condition of the lungs, in which there were abnormalities, except for some blood tissue, trachea and main trachea.

So as explained ConnectedChristie West, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, says:

“Threat of Destruction”

It should be noted that Fraser dolphins are social and friendly creatures, and they are famous for encountering dolphins or whales of other species. This socialization is worrying scientists who fear that if Fraser comes in contact with dolphins, the “highly contagious” pathogen could spread to other parts of the world.

Christie West gives an example of killer whales called Arcas. Like many others, the species is vulnerable, especially as “there are only 167 individuals in Hawaii, and if the Morpheus virus spreads through this population, it will not be a major obstacle to population recovery, but it could be endangered.”

More than 200 dolphins have died in Brazil due to the morphilivirus

Researchers are closely monitoring the spread of the virus in cetaceans. Especially between November and December 2017, more than 200 dolphins from Guyana were found dead in Brazil. This abnormal death is actually related to a new strain of morphilivirus. More recently, the virus has been identified in three southern right whales stranded in Brazil, we know.

The authors of the new study say more research is needed to test the immunity of dolphins and whales in the Central Pacific. In fact, “it will help establish the previous infection rate and the extent of the infection.”

However, marine wildlife managers and environmental activists need to be very vigilant because controlling this disease is not easy. A vaccination campaign is also expected, as the United States Agency for Marine and Atmospheric Surveillance (NOAA) has already worked on a vaccine against morphilivirus for monk seals in Hawaii.

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