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 Post subject: Dolphins dying off East Coast
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:01 am 
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Record number of dolphins dying off East Coast in ‘measles’ outbreak

he deadliest known outbreak of a measles-like virus in bottlenose dolphins has killed a record number of the marine mammals along the U.S. Atlantic coast in recent months, officials said Friday. A total of 753 bottlenose dolphins have washed up from New York to Florida from July 1 until Nov. 3, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The figure represents a 10-fold increase in the number of dolphins that would typically turn up dead along East Coast beaches, said Teri Rowles, program coordinator of the NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. “Historic averages for this same time frame, same geographic area, is only 74, so you get an idea of the scope,” she told reporters. The cause of death is morbillivirus, a form of marine mammal measles that is similar to canine distemper and can cause pneumonia, suppressed immune function and brain infections that are usually fatal. The virus spreads among dolphins in close contact to one another. The death toll is also higher than the 740-plus strandings in the last major Atlantic morbillivirus outbreak in 1987-1988. And they have come in a much shorter time period, leading officials to anticipate this event could get much worse. “It is expected that the confirmed mortalities will be higher,” said Rowles. “If this plays out similar to the ’87-88 die-offs, we are less than halfway through that time frame.”

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