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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 132:215-220 (2019)  -  DOI:

Novel dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) outbreak among Mediterranean striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba in Italian waters

Alessandra Pautasso1, Barbara Iulini1, Carla Grattarola1, Federica Giorda1,2, Maria Goria1, Simone Peletto1, Loretta Masoero1, Walter Mignone1, Katia Varello1, Antonio Petrella3, Antonio Carbone3, Antonio Pintore4, Daniele Denurra4, Francesco Scholl5, Antonella Cersini5, Roberto Puleio6, Giuseppa Purpari6, Giuseppe Lucifora7, Giovanna Fusco7, Giovanni Di Guardo8, Sandro Mazzariol9, Cristina Casalone1,*

1Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte Liguria e Valle d’Aosta, 10154 Torino, Italy
2Institute for Animal Health and Food Safety (IUSA), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35413 Arucas, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
3Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Puglia e Basilicata, 71121 Foggia, Italy
4Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sardegna, 07100 Sassari, Italy
5Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana, 00178 Roma, Italy
6Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia, 90129 Palermo, Italy
7Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Mezzogiorno, 80055 Portici, Italy
8Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Teramo, 64100 Teramo, Italy
9University of Padova, Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science (BCA), 35020 Legnaro-Padova, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: An unusual mortality event (UME) of striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba occurred in the period July to December 2016 along the Italian Ionian coastline. We conducted a complete postmortem examination on 28 specimens and detected dolphin morbillivirus (DMV), by means of biomolecular analyses, in the target tissues of 17 animals. Unlike previous outbreaks occurring in the Mediterranean Sea in 2011 and 2013, we observed typical pathological changes suggestive of morbilliviral infection in an acute/subacute phase and immunohistochemical reactivity. The same findings were observed in 13 other specimens beached along the Italian coastline during 2016 with no temporal and geographical relationship with the ongoing epidemic outbreak. Molecular characterization and phylogenetic analysis showed that DMV sequences detected in Italy in 2016 clustered with those identified in Portugal and Galicia (Spain), representing a novel DMV strain of Atlantic origin which entered the Mediterranean Sea and affected a naïve striped dolphin population. DMV sequences detected in the previous Mediterranean outbreaks exhibited a marked genetic relatedness and diverged from those detected in cetaceans stranded along the Galician and Portuguese coasts since 2007.

KEY WORDS: Morbillivirus · Unusual mortality event · Striped dolphins · Italian Sea · RT-PCR

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Cite this article as: Pautasso A, Iulini B, Grattarola C, Giorda F and others (2019) Novel dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) outbreak among Mediterranean striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba in Italian waters. Dis Aquat Org 132:215-220.

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