DAO 90:113-120 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02190

Detection of a respiratory coronavirus from tissues archived during a pneumonia epizootic in free-ranging Pacific harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsii

Hendrik H. Nollens1,2,*, James F. X. Wellehan1, Linda Archer1, Linda J. Lowenstine3, Frances M. D. Gulland4

1Marine Mammal Health Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA
2Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, San Diego, California 92109, USA
3Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA
4The Marine Mammal Center, 1065 Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, California 94965, USA

ABSTRACT: In June 2000, 21 adult harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsii were found dead along a localized section of the central California coast. Necropsy of 5 fresh carcasses revealed pulmonary congestion, consolidation, and hemorrhage. Histopathological changes in lungs from 2 of these seals included a necrotizing lymphocytic and histocytic lobar pneumonia with intra-lesional bacteria. A coronavirus (CoV) was detected in archived tissues from 1 of the 5 seals via a degenerate PCR for nidoviral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), and was subsequently confirmed via specific PCR. Based on the partial RdRp sequence, the CoV was identified as a novel, divergent member of the CoV group 1a. The virus is tentatively named harbor seal coronavirus (HSCoV). The clinical significance of HSCoV and its involvement in the etiology of the epizootic pneumonia and deaths of the harbor seals is uncertain.


KEY WORDS: Harbor seal · Phoca vitulina richardsii · Coronavirus · Pneumonia


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Cite this article as: Nollens HH, Wellehan JFX, Archer L, Lowenstine LJ, Gullande FMD (2010) Detection of a respiratory coronavirus from tissues archived during a pneumonia epizootic in free-ranging Pacific harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsii. Dis Aquat Org 90:113-120. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02190

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