From: Reuters
Published August 30, 2007 01:00 PM

Spain Warns Of Virus Threatening Dolphins

MADRID - Spain has asked authorities around the Mediterranean and adjoining seas for help in monitoring an infection which threatens a protected species of dolphin, warning it may become an epidemic.


"The virus identified is practically the same one which provoked a massive epidemic in the 1990s and could affect other species of the whale family, such as pilot whales,"the Environment Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.


Morbillivirus, a potentially fatal infection which causes measles in its human form, was found in dead striped dolphins -- a protected species -- washed up on beaches in Spain, it said.


The ministry did not say how many dolphins had been affected but a report in newspaper El Mundo on Wednesday said dozens had been killed.


Spain asked countries along the Mediterranean basin to collect samples from any animals infected to help track the disease more effectively.


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Spanish regional governments and environmental experts will meet to discuss the issue on September 13.


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