Alphaherpesvirus: Isolation, Identification, Partial Characterisation, Associated Pathologic Findings and Epidemiology in Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Alaska and Arctic Canada

Ole Nielsen, Kathleen A. Burek-Huntington, Lisa L. Loseto, Maria Morell, Carlos H. Romero
2017 Arctic Science  
Arctic Science 20 Live, dead stranded, and harvested beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) in Alaska and the western 21 Canadian Arctic were screened for viruses utilizing a primary beluga cell line. Samples consisted 22 of swabs from blowhole, anus, and genital tract. Virus cytopathic effect was seen after 23 incubation 6-30 days post infection, and virus-like particles consistent with herpesvirus were 24 observed upon electron microscopy. DNA extraction, cetacean-specific polymerase chain 25
more » ... amplification and sequencing of the DNA-dependent DNA polymerase gene fragments 26 of approximately 700 nucleotides revealed the presence of a new species of alphaherpesvirus. 27 Culture positive isolates were recovered from all swab types, from 2001 to 2016. PCR testing of 28 swab and skin lesions from Bristol Bay, Alaska belugas revealed that the herpesvirus was present 29 in the blowholes of a high proportion of the animals. Results suggest that belugas from Canadian 30 and Alaskan locations are infected with alphaherpesvirus. Eight culture positive belugas were 31 identified from Alaska, all but one were adults and all had evidence of skin disease. No Canadian 32 belugas showed signs of skin disease. Virus was isolated from three separate populations 33 indicating it is likely enzootic in belugas. This is the first report of an alphaherpesvirus isolated 34 and propagated from a monodontid species. 35 36
doi:10.1139/as-2017-0043 fatcat:f36rk5i325h3dgw2qwbzqbydwu