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Peru dolphins died from virus, US scientists confirm
By Manuel Vigo
May 2, 2012
Specialists from the Marine Mammal Center (MMC), in the United States, have confirmed the death of thousands of dolphins in northern Peru was caused by the ‘morbillivirus’.
Raul Castillo, scientific director at the Peruvian Sea Institute, announced the MMC’s findings, and said the virus was similar to 'canine distemper', a viral disease that leads to weakness and affects the autoimmune system, Peru21 reported.
"Animals with this virus have trouble swimming and feeding," he said.
Infected dolphins, he said, get weak due to the virus’ effect on the respiratory and nervous systems.
"The Peruvian laboratories found an immune depression that could be caused by a virus, so we asked the United States to determine what type of infection it was," he said.
Castillo said he did not rule out that the morbillivirus could have also been the cause of death of several hundred pelicans in the country’s northern beaches.
"To find out, we’ll have to do other studies," he said.
According to Peru21, local authorities have collected water and sand samples from where the pelicans died, and have started to investigate the incident.
On Tuesday Stefan Austermühle, director of NGO Mundo Azul, said the virus could pose a danger to humans if it mutated, similar to bird flu, which killed thousands of people around the world.
Austermühle also said the government’s handling of the investigation had been irresponsible.
"The authorities have not taken precautionary measures to avoid virus infections, by incinerating the bodies of the dolphins and prohibiting their touching or consumption."
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Total coments: 2
Commented By: fernando rey
On: May 2, 2012. 3:42 pm
What caused the virus? where was the virus carried?
Commented By: Gonzalo Chong
On: May 6, 2012. 11:41 pm
This information is wrong. Imarpe (Peruvian Sea Institute) just said to the press that the Marine Mammal Center (MMC) haven't confirmed anything. MMC is not participating in the investigation, and the existence of the virus is just a theory. http://www.andina.com.pe/Espanol/noticia-centro-eeuu-no-participa-investigacion-delfines-muertos-aclara-imarpe-410931.aspx
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