Morbillivirus is a type of
virus that causes serious disease in several species
of animals and in people. Distemper in dogs and rinderpest
in cattle are caused by different morbilliviruses.
Measles (rubeola) is a generally less severe morbillivirus-induced
disease of people, although this morbillivirus caused
many fatalities prior to the age of modern medicine.
An important feature of morbillviruses is their ability
to cause major epidemics when populations without immunity
are exposed. A large proportion of the canine population
died when canine distemper entered Europe 200 years
ago. Rinderpest, otherwise known as the "cattle plague",
has caused epidemics of biblical proportions. Furthermore,
one half to two thirds of the native population died
when measles was introduced into various areas of the
New World in the 1500s. There have been several major
die-offs among marine mammals caused by morbilliviruses
in recent years. Baikal seals in Lake Baikal (1987),
harbor seals in northwestern Europe (1988), and striped
dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea (1990) have all been
affected by separate morbillivirus epidemics. The National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association recently
implicated morbillivirus infection as the primary cause
of the 1987-1988 U. S. Atlantic coast bottlenose dolphin
die-off. In each of these events, thousands of animals
are believed to have died.
Blixenkrone-Moller M., G. Bolt, E. Gottschalck and
M. Kenter. 1994. Comparative analysis of the gene encoding
the nucleocapsid protein of dolphin morbillivirus reveals
its distinct evolutionary relationship to measles virus
and ruminant morbilliviruses. Journal of General Virology
Blixenkrone-Moller, M., G. Bolt, T. D. Jensen, T. Harder
and V. Svansson. 1996. Comparative analysis of the attachment
protein gene (H) of dolphin morbillivirus. Virus Research
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S. Kennedy, M. McAliskey and B. K. Rima. 1990. Morbillivirus
in dolphins. Nature 348:21.
Duignan, P. J., et. al. 1995a.
Morbillivirus infection in two species of pilot whales
(Globicephala sp.) from the western Atlantic.
Marine Mammal Science 11:150- 162.
Duignan, P. J., et. al. 1995b. Morbillivirus infection
in cetaceans of the western Atlantic. Veterinary Microbiology
Duignan, P. J. et. al. 1996. Morbillivirus infection
in the bottlenose dolphins: Evidence for recurrent epizootics
in the western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Marine
Mammal Science 12:499-515.
Kennedy, S., J. A. Smyth, P. F. Cush, M. McAliskey,
D. Moffett, C. M. McNiven and M. Carole. 1992. Morbillivirus
infection in two common porpoises (Phocoena phocoena )
from the coasts of England and Scotland. Veterinary Record
Kraft, A., J. H. Lichy, T. P. Lipscomb, B. A. Klaunberg,
S. Kennedy and J. K. Taubenberger. 1995. Postmortem diagnosis
of morbillivirus infection in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops
truncatus) in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico epizootics
by polymerase chain reaction-based assay. Journal of
Wildlife Diseases 31:410-415.
Lipscomb, T. P., F. Y. Schulman, D. Moffett and S.
Kennedy. 1994 a. Morbillivital disease in Atlantic bottlenose
truncatus) from the Gulf of Mexico . Journal of
Wildlife Diseases 30:567-571.
Osterhaus, A. D. M. E., I. K. G. Visser, R. L. deSwart,
M-F. Van Bressem, M. W. G. Van de Bildt, C. Orvell, T.
Barrett and J. A. Raga. 1992. Morbillivirus threat to
Mediterranean monk seals? Veterinary Record 130:141-142.
Osterhaus, A. D. M. E., R. L. de Swart, H. W. Vos,
P. S. Ross, M. J. H. Kenter and T. Barrett. 1995. Morbillivirus
infection of aquatic mammals: Newly infected members
of the genus. Veterinary Microbiology. 44:219-227.
Van Bressem, M-F., K. Van Qaerbeek, M. Flemming and
T. Barrett. 1998. Serological evidence of morbillivirus
infection in small cetaceans from the southeast Pacific.
Veterinary Microbiology 2:89-98.
Van Bressem, M-F. and T. Barrett. 1998. Further insight
on the epidemiology of the cetacean morbillivirus in
the northeastern Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science 14(3):605-613.
Visser, I. K. G., et. al. 1993. Characterization of
morbilliviruses isolated from dolphins and porpoises
in Europe. Journal of General Virology 74:631-641.
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