Pathologic and immunocytochemical studies of morbillivirus infection in striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba).

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    Hundreds of striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) died along the Spanish Mediterranean coast during the second half of 1990. We necropsied 58 dolphins. Partial collapse of the lungs with patchy atelectasis, subcutaneous edema, icterus, and stomatitis were the most prominent gross morphologic changes. Histologically, a bronchiolo-interstitial pneumonia was the most frequent lesion (72% of the animals). It was characterized by hyperplasia of alveolar epithelial type II cells and formation of multinucleate syncytia in alveolar and bronchiolar lumina. Other prominent lesions were encephalitis (69%), lymphoid depletion, and formation of multinucleate syncytia in the cortex of lymph nodes. The distribution of morbillivirus antigen was investigated in 23 well-preserved dolphins using a monoclonal antibody against the hemagglutinin glycoprotein of phocine distemper virus. Positive immunostaining was found in brain (77%), in lung (70%), and in mesenteric (61%), mediastinal (47%), and prescapular (45%) lymph nodes. Phocine distemper virus antigen was demonstrated less frequently in trachea, stomach, biliary epithelium, intestine, kidney, and mammary gland. Necrotizing-hemorrhagic pneumonia and encephalitis due to Aspergillus fumigatus were seen in three dolphins, whereas two animals had lesions of toxoplasmosis. Changes in our dolphins were similar to those caused by distemper in seals and porpoises. The origin of the dolphin virus and the relationships among dolphin, seal, and porpoise morbilli viruses are unknown.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    JournalVeterinary Pathology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992


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