Two common porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), one found stranded on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and the other in the Moray Firth, Scotland, in late 1990, were examined post mortem. Lesions of diffuse bronchointerstitial pneumonia were present in both animals; they were characterised by the infiltration of alveoli with leucocytes, macrophages and multinucleate syncytia, the necrosis of bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium, focal proliferation of type II pneumocytes and occasional acidophilic cytoplasmic inclusions in alveolar macrophages and syncytia. Lymphoid depletion was apparent in the spleen, thymus and lymph nodes of both porpoises. Other changes in the Isle of Sheppey porpoise included severe dacryoadenitis. Marked pharyngitis, oesophagitis and balanoposthitis were present in the Moray Firth porpoise. Immunoperoxidase staining revealed the presence of morbillivirus antigen in a range of epithelia from both porpoises. This is the first report of morbillivirus infection in cetaceans from the coast of Great Britain.
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