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Canine distemper virus in Lake Baikal seals (Phoca sibirica)
  1. L. V. Mamaev, MSc1,
  2. I. K. G. Visser, PhD2,
  3. S. I. Belikov, PhD1,
  4. N. N. Denikina, MSc1,
  5. T. Harder, DVM4,
  6. L. Goatley, BTech3,
  7. B. Rima, MSc,PhD5,
  8. B. Edginton, MSc1,
  9. A. D. M. E. Osterhaus, DVM, PhD2 and
  10. T. Barrett, MSc, PhD3
  1. 1 The Limnological Institute, Ulan-Batorskaya 3, Irkutsk 33, Russia
  2. 2 Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre, Hoofdstraat 94A, 9968 AG Pieterburen, The Netherlands
  3. 3 Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory, Pirbright, Surrey GU24 ONF
  4. 4 Institute for Virology, Hannover Veterinary School, D-3000 Hannover 71, Germany
  5. 5 School of Biology and Biochemistry, The Queen's University of Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  1. Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory, Pirbright, Surrey GU24 ONF


The virus epizootic which resulted in significant mortality in Siberian seals (Phoca sibirica) in Lake Baikal during 1987/88 was caused by canine distemper virus. Sequence analysis of the virus glycoprotein genes revealed that it was most closely related to recent European field isolates of canine distemper virus. This paper presents evidence that the same virus continued to circulate in seals in Lake Baikal after the initial epizootic. Three out of 45 brain tissue samples collected from seals culled in the spring of 1992 were positive for canine distemper virus-specific nucleic acid by the reverse transcription/ polymerase chain reaction and the sequences were closely related to that of the original virus isolated in 1988.

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