Dead dolphins wash ashore on U.S. Eastern Seaboard, virus suspected

Sept. 17, 2013 at 2:30 PM
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NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The number of dead dolphins washed ashore in Virginia has reached 300, with tests indicating a virus killed them, a federal fisheries agency said.

NOAA Fisheries said preliminary tests point to morbillivirus, which causes lesions and pneumonia and is spread by respiratory particles and direct contact between closely related species. It has no cure, and scientists must wait for it to run its course. The virus was responsible for a similar die-off of dolphins along the Eastern Seaboard in 1987, the agency said.

Dolphin carcasses began to show up on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay in July, numbers far higher than the average of 65 per year. Although the majority of dead dolphins have been found in Virginia, they have washed up on shores from New York to North Carolina, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.

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