Publication: Cetacean morbillivirus in coastal Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Western Australia

Home / Latest News / Publication: Cetacean morbillivirus in coastal Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Western Australia

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases:

Cetacean morbillivirus in coastal Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Western Australia

Authors: Stephens, N., Duignan, P., Wang, J., Bingham, J., Finn, H., Bejder, L., Patterson, P., and Holyoake, C.

This paper discusses the role that Cetacean Morbillivirus (CeMV; a virus related to the human Measles Virus) played in the deaths of some of the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins that died as part of an unusual mortality event involving multiple animals in the Swan River, Perth, Western Australia, in 2009. In it, we discuss the mortality event and the findings of our pathology investigations and diagnostic testing. CeMV is an emerging disease globally, having caused numerous outbreaks, mainly in the northern hemisphere, in the past 25 years, including the current outbreak (at the time of writing this blog post) on the US Atlantic coast, which has been ongoing since mid-2013 and has caused the deaths of hundreds of cetaceans. CeMV was reported for the first time in Australian waters in 2011, having caused the death of a Common Bottlenose Dolphin in Queensland, north-eastern Australia, in 2010. Since then, CeMV was found to be a major contributing factor to a dolphin mortality event in 2012/2013 in waters off the coast of South Australia. Our findings are interesting as they constitute the first report of CeMV-related death in the Indian Ocean, and there are a growing number of recent cases in the literature from the Southern Oceans, suggesting disease emergence. Additionally, the way the disease presented in our study animals was unlike that of classic acute CeMV infections. Moreover, the WA CeMV variant we identified is significantly genetically distinct from other CeMV strains from elsewhere in the world, including the variant from Queensland – indicating that the WA variant is the most closely related CeMV variant to the terrestrial viruses to which it is related. This raises interesting questions with regard to the origin of the virus.

Full publication details:

Stephens, N., Duignan, P.J., Wang, J., Bingham, J., Finn, H., Bejder, L., Patterson, I.A.P., and Holyoake, C. 2014. Cetacean morbillivirus in Coastal Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Western Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 20(4): 672-676.

Please contact Nahiid Stephens for further information including PDF requests.

Posting by Nahiid Stephens, 2 April 2014

Lars Bejder PhD
Lars Bejder PhD
Professor Lars Bejder PhD is the Research Leader of the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit.
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