Measles-like virus blamed for Atlantic dolphin deaths
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (AFP) - A virus that is similar to measles in humans is suspected of causing the deaths of hundreds of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins since July, United States (US) officials said on Tuesday.
Morbillivirus infects the lungs and the brain, causing pneumonia and abnormal behavior, and is often fatal, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
The outbreak has killed 333 bottlenose dolphins in the mid-Atlantic region since July, and may endure for a year, possibly topping the last major outbreak 25 years ago, which killed over 740 animals.
"We are now calling this a morbillivirus outbreak," said Ms Teri Rowles of the NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.