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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 95:247-251 (2011)  -  DOI:

Morbilliviral encephalitis in a striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba calf from Italy

Giovanni Di Guardo1,*, Cristiano Cocumelli2, Francesco Scholl2, Cristina Esmeralda Di Francesco1, Roberto Speranza1, Massimiliano Pennelli1, Claudia Eleni2

1Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Piazza Aldo Moro 45, 64100 Teramo, Italy
2Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana, Via Appia Nuova 1411, 00178 Rome, Italy

ABSTRACT: A free-living, striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba calf was stranded on the Latium coast of Italy in November 2009. Significant neuropathological findings included non-suppurative meningoencephalitis, microgliosis, neuronal degeneration, astrocytosis, and occasional multinucleate syncytia. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for Morbillivirus were positive exclusively from the brain, with morbilliviral antigen and nucleic acid being detected in neurons and, to a lesser extent, in astrocytes. A low neutralizing antibody titer (1:10) against Morbillivirus (Canine distemper virus, CDV) was also found in blood serum, with no simultaneous presence of serum antibodies to Brucella spp. or Toxoplasma gondii. Furthermore, no pathogenic bacteria were isolated from any tissue or biological sample. This is the second report of morbilliviral encephalitis in a striped dolphin stranded along the Italian coastline in a 16 yr period (1993 to 2009). The neurohistopathological, IHC, and biomolecular features of this case are of additional interest, as antigenic and genomic positivity were exclusively confined to the brain of this dolphin, which may have acquired morbilliviral infection either postnatally or transplacentally.

KEY WORDS: Encephalitis · Dolphin morbillivirus · Striped dolphin · Italy · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Di Guardo G, Cocumelli C, Scholl F, Di Francesco CE, Speranza R, Pennelli M, Eleni C (2011) Morbilliviral encephalitis in a striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba calf from Italy. Dis Aquat Org 95:247-251.

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