Culprit in Dolphin Deaths IDed
But scientists can't do much to halt measles-like virus' spread
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2013 3:39 PM CDT
Virginia Aquarium workers carry a deceased male dolphin on a stretcher from Ocean View Beach in Norfolk on Aug. 1.   (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Dorothy Edwards)

(Newser) – The good news is that scientists now think they know why so many dead dolphins are washing up on shores along the East Coast—it's a virus akin to measles, reports Wired. The bad news is that they can't do anything but let it run its course. So far, about 330 dolphins have washed up, mostly in Virginia, a figure 10 times higher than normal. (And, of course, hundreds, perhaps thousands, more likely never reached shore.) A similar outbreak of this morbillivirus in 1987-88 caused 800 dead dolphins to wash ashore, and if the new outbreak follows the same pattern, the virus will probably remain in play until next spring. It's expected to move south along the Atlantic Seaboard.

“At this point, there isn’t anything we can do to stop the virus,” says an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We don’t have a vaccine that is developed that could be easily deployed in a wild population of bottlenose dolphins.” The dolphins probably lost their immunity since the last outbreak, a vet tells NBC News. It's not clear how the outbreak started, but scientists figure the coastal dolphins picked up the virus from some other marine mammal. It's all but impossible this strain could spread to humans, notes ABC News.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Aug 31, 2013 6:38 PM CDT
We went through it all back in the 60's. Measles,chicken pox, mumps, and all that fun stuff you don't go through today. Remember all the kids and Alice getting Chicken pox on the Brady Bunch. That was just the way it was back then. Then our aunt got hepatitis and she had visited us so we all had to march down to the doctor's office for a shot. Oh that still hurts as they felt like they had to hit your rump bone for the shot to work.
Aug 31, 2013 9:20 AM CDT
Probably caught the measles from that church that refused to vaccinate their children.
Aug 28, 2013 8:36 AM CDT