The most dangerous natural enemy for wild cetaceans today is a virus, the cetacean morbillivirus. In the last quarter of a century, different variants of this pathogen have caused massive epidemics with high mortality throughout the world, the most serious of which, in 1988, wiped out approximately half of the bottlenose dolphins in the US Atlantic. Recently researchers from the Oceanogràfic Foundation identified a new strain of the virus in dolphins stranded in the Valencian Community, but they did not know if it was only on the Spanish coast or had a greater diffusion. Now it is confirmed that the same strain has also killed seven dolphins in Sicily. Everything indicates that the new variant of the virus is circulating throughout the Mediterranean.

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“Dolphin morbillivirus is now the most lethal Samoa Email List pathogen for cetaceans,” explains Consuelo Rubio-Guerri, Research Coordinator at the Oceanogràfic Foundation. “In wild animals it is very difficult to control the action of such a pathogen, so we are not considering developing a vaccine or a specific treatment for now, but it is important to know as much as possible about the disease and its evolution.” Rubio-Guerri is the main co-author of the work confirming the presence of the new strain of the pathogen in Sicily, published in Scientific Reports and carried out together with researchers from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia (Italy) and the Complutense University of Madrid. These scientists underline in their publication “the

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need for more research to determine not only how this strain of dolphin morbillivirus circulates, but also its potential impact on the populations of cetaceans that inhabit the Mediterranean.” Cetacean morbillivirus was first described in 1990. It was then confirmed that the large mass die-off of bottlenose dolphins observed off the Atlantic coast of the United States in the late 1980s was due to this pathogen, and not, as was initially thought, to a toxic agent, a pollutant. The stranded animals showed symptoms of a rare condition that combined pneumonia, encephalitis and damage to the immune system. Thus, in the last 25 years, several strains of the morbillivirus have caused numerous massive strandings. In 1990 a thousand striped dolphins

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