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      New insight into dolphin morbillivirus phylogeny and epidemiology in the northeast Atlantic: opportunistic study in cetaceans stranded along the Portuguese and Galician coasts


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          Screening Atlantic cetacean populations for Cetacean Morbillivirus (CeMV) is essential to understand the epidemiology of the disease. In Europe, Portugal and Spain have the highest cetacean stranding rates, mostly due to the vast extension of coastline. Morbillivirus infection has been associated with high morbidity and mortality in cetaceans, especially in outbreaks reported in the Mediterranean Sea. However, scarce information is available regarding this disease in cetaceans from the North-East Atlantic populations. The presence of CeMV genomic RNA was investigated by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR in samples from 279 specimens stranded along the Portuguese and Galician coastlines collected between 2004 and 2015.


          A total of sixteen animals ( n = 16/279, 5.7 %) were positive. The highest prevalence of DMV was registered in striped dolphins ( Stenella coeruleoalba) ( n = 14/69; 20.3 %), slightly higher in those collected in Galicia ( n = 8/33; 24.2 %) than in Portugal ( n = 6/36; 16.7 %).


          Phylogenetic analysis revealed that, despite the low genetic distances between samples, the high posterior probability (PP) values obtained strongly support the separation of the Portuguese and Galician sequences in an independent branch, separately from samples from the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. Furthermore, evidence suggests an endemic rather than an epidemic situation in the striped dolphin populations from Portugal and Galicia, since no outbreaks have been detected and positive samples have been detected annually since 2007, indicating that this virus is actively circulating in these populations and reaching prevalence values as high as 24 % among the Galician samples tested.

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          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0795-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references31

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          MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogenetic trees.

          The program MRBAYES performs Bayesian inference of phylogeny using a variant of Markov chain Monte Carlo. MRBAYES, including the source code, documentation, sample data files, and an executable, is available at http://brahms.biology.rochester.edu/software.html.
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            Emerging infectious diseases in cetaceans worldwide and the possible role of environmental stressors.

            We reviewed prominent emerging infectious diseases of cetaceans, examined their potential to impact populations, re-assessed zoonotic risk and evaluated the role of environmental stressors. Cetacean morbilliviruses and papillomaviruses as well as Brucella spp. and Toxoplasma gondii are thought to interfere with population abundance by inducing high mortalities, lowering reproductive success or by synergistically increasing the virulence of other diseases. Severe cases of lobomycosis and lobomycosis-like disease (LLD) may contribute to the death of some dolphins. The zoonotic hazard of marine mammal brucellosis and toxoplasmosis may have been underestimated, attributable to frequent misdiagnoses and underreporting, particularly in developing countries and remote areas where carcass handling without protective gear and human consumption of fresh cetacean products are commonplace. Environmental factors seem to play a role in the emergence and pathogenicity of morbillivirus epidemics, lobomycosis/LLD, toxoplasmosis, poxvirus-associated tattoo skin disease and, in harbour porpoises, infectious diseases of multifactorial aetiology. Inshore and estuarine cetaceans incur higher risks than pelagic cetaceans due to habitats often severely altered by anthropogenic factors such as chemical and biological contamination, direct and indirect fisheries interactions, traumatic injuries from vessel collisions and climate change.
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              Cetacean Morbillivirus: Current Knowledge and Future Directions

              We review the molecular and epidemiological characteristics of cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) and the diagnosis and pathogenesis of associated disease, with six different strains detected in cetaceans worldwide. CeMV has caused epidemics with high mortality in odontocetes in Europe, the USA and Australia. It represents a distinct species within the Morbillivirus genus. Although most CeMV strains are phylogenetically closely related, recent data indicate that morbilliviruses recovered from Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), from Western Australia, and a Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis), from Brazil, are divergent. The signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) cell receptor for CeMV has been characterized in cetaceans. It shares higher amino acid identity with the ruminant SLAM than with the receptors of carnivores or humans, reflecting the evolutionary history of these mammalian taxa. In Delphinidae, three amino acid substitutions may result in a higher affinity for the virus. Infection is diagnosed by histology, immunohistochemistry, virus isolation, RT-PCR, and serology. Classical CeMV-associated lesions include bronchointerstitial pneumonia, encephalitis, syncytia, and lymphoid depletion associated with immunosuppression. Cetaceans that survive the acute disease may develop fatal secondary infections and chronic encephalitis. Endemically infected, gregarious odontocetes probably serve as reservoirs and vectors. Transmission likely occurs through the inhalation of aerosolized virus but mother to fetus transmission was also reported.

                Author and article information

                (+351) 21 365 2800 , mcarolinabento@fmv.ulisboa.pt
                BMC Vet Res
                BMC Vet. Res
                BMC Veterinary Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 August 2016
                26 August 2016
                : 12
                : 1
                : 176
                [1 ]Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, 1300-477 Lisbon, Portugal
                [2 ]Department of Biology and CESAM, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
                [3 ]Portuguese Wildlife Society, Department of Biology, Minho University, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
                [4 ]Department of Biology and CESAM, Minho University, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
                [5 ]Department of Biology and CBMA, Minho University, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
                [6 ]Coordinadora para o Estudo dos Mamíferos Mariños, 36380 Gondomar, Pontevedra Spain
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 20 November 2015
                : 10 August 2016
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001871, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia;
                Award ID: CetSenti RECI/AAG-GLO/0470/2012
                Award ID: UID/AMB/50017/2013
                Award ID: SFRH/BD/30240/2006
                Award ID: SFRH/BPD/82407/2011
                Award ID: SFRH/BPD/64889/2009
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Life+ Marpro
                Award ID: Life09 NAT/PT/000038
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100007048, EEA Grants;
                Award ID: PT0039
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Veterinary medicine
                cetacean morbillivirus,dolphin morbillivirus,striped dolphins,eastern atlantic


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