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New virus discovered in stranded dolphin
Date:7/13/2013

other marine mammals. They are now searching for more examples of polyomavirus in dolphins. "It's possible that many dolphins carry this virus or other polyomaviruses without significant problems. Or perhaps it's like the common cold where they get sick for a short while and recover," says Dr. St. Leger.

Dr. Anthony stresses that without more work to study the diversity and prevalence of polyomaviruses in dolphins and other marine mammals, it is difficult to know what the specific threat of this new virus is. ''We don't even know if this is even a dolphin virus. It could also represent a spillover event from another species.'' While unknown in this case, the possibility intrigues him. "Several important outbreaks in the past have resulted from viruses jumping into new hosts,'' he says, citing another Anthony-St. Leger collaboration where they documented a case of bird flu in a seal population in New England (findings were published in mBio).

But for now, the significance of the discovery of a polyomavirus in a dolphin is that it appears to be the cause of death of this animal, and as Dr. Anthony notes, "One of our main goals is to protect the health of wildlife."


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Contact: Timothy S. Paul
tp2111@columbia.edu
212-305-2676
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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