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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Congenital defects and herpesvirus in beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas calves from the endangered Cook Inlet population

    Kathleen A. Burek-Huntington*, Kim E. W. Shelden, Colleen Guilfoyle, J. G. M. Thewissen, Mandy Migura, Anibal G. Armien, Carlos H. Romero

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Cook Inlet beluga whales (CIBs) Delphinapterus leucas are critically endangered and genetically distinct from other beluga populations in Alaska. CIBs are exposed to numerous natural and anthropogenic sources of mortality and morbidity. This study describes congenital defects observed in 2 CIB calves. The first case, an aborted fetus, was characterized by lack of a peduncle and flukes, anorectal and genitourinary dysgenesis, and probable biliary dysplasia. The second case, a male calf, had a perineal groove defect and suspected secondary peritonitis; it also had a systemic herpesvirus infection. Further studies are needed to determine if such defects are due to genetic mutation, infectious diseases, nutritional imbalances, or contaminant exposure.