Dolphin deaths linked to measles virus epidemic

Animals affected between 15 and 20 years old

Dolphin deaths linked to measles virus epidemic

Rome, April 19 - A rash of deaths among dolphins washed up on Italy's shores from the Tyrrhenian sea since the beginning of the year is being attributed to a possible outbreak of Morbillivirus, the virus that causes measles in humans, scientists said on Friday. Between 30% to 40% of the dolphin carcasses analyzed tested positive for the virus, which scientists believe created a gateway for other illnesses among the animals. "The mortality rate that now appears to have abruptly dropped means that the outbreak could have run its course," a report by the National Institute of Marine Scientists said. The epidemic mostly affects young dolphins under the age of 15-20 years. "Animals born after the 1990-92 epidemic are therefore devoid of the antibodies needed to defend them against the disease," according to scientists.

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