1887

Abstract

The North Sea European harbour seal () population has endured two phocine distemper virus (PDV) epidemics in 1988 and 2002. The grey seal () is a sympatric seal species that shows little or no mortality from PDV. Two Scottish grey seal breeding colonies were sampled for evidence of PDV infection approximately 2 months after the peak of the 2002 epidemic. In both colonies, a proportion of mothers (13/109) and pups (6/84) tested positive for PDV in their leukocytes. All infected animals were asymptomatic and completed the breeding season successfully. These results illustrate that grey seals come into contact with infectious seals and can become infected themselves without experiencing acute effects. In some seals the virus is able to replicate from the primary site of infection. This study provides evidence that grey seals may have an active role in the spread of PDV during an epidemic.

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2005-09-01
2019-11-12
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