Subject: VIRUS FOUND IN ENDANGERED FLORIDA MANATEE (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 13:51:38 -0400 (EDT)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
     J. Michael Williamson
 Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu>
 Associate Professor-Science
 Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 508.468.0073

     "Wrinkles only go where smiles have been"
                  Jimmy Buffett
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 12:49:57 +1200
From: Terry Hardie <terry@bytes.gen.nz>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
     <MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA>
To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA
Subject: VIRUS FOUND IN ENDANGERED FLORIDA MANATEE

24-Jul-97 09:06 am Urgent  International

VIRUS FOUND IN ENDANGERED FLORIDA MANATEE


   Miami, July 23 Reuter - A virus that causes benign skin tumours
has been found for the first time in Florida manatees and could pose
a new threat to the endangered MARINE MAMMAL, a University of Miami
researcher said on Wednesday.
   It was the first time any virus had been found in manatees, which
have strong immune systems, UM scientist Dr Gregory Bossart said.
   The infection, called papillomavirus, was confirmed through DNA
molecular testing on tissue from two manatees inhabiting separate
areas of Florida's Gulf coast, Bossart said in a statement.
   ``The fact that we have confirmed that two animals from different
locations are infected indicates that this may be a new problem and
it has the potential to spread,'' Bossart said.
   Papillomavirus causes lesions in a variety of mammals including
humans. Researchers have seen unusual viral infections, skin lesions
and tumours in other marine mammals in recent years, including
bottlenose dolphins and killer whales.
   The tumours rarely are malignant, but can appear above the eyes,
on the mouth or genitals, causing functional problems for the
creatures, researchers said.
   Manatees, or sea cows, are gentle, slow-moving vegetarian giants,
weighing over 1000 pounds. They are among the most endangered of
marine mammals, with only 2500-3000 remaining in warm US coastal
waters.
   More than 400 manatees died last year, the worst mortality record
of any year on record. About 150 of those were killed by brevetoxin,
a substance produced by red tide, a massive algae bloom.
   Bossart said the emergence of the virus in manatees may have
resulted from environmental degradation.
   ``We've been using the ocean as our toilet for so long that we
may now be seeing the results,'' he said.


Reuter skr