First molecular detection and characterization of herpesvirus and poxvirus in a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)



Downloads per month over past year

Melero Asensio, Mar and García Párraga, Daniel and Corpa, Juan Manuel and Ortega, Joaquín and Rubio Guerri, Consuelo and Crespo, José Luis and Rivera Arroyo, Belén and Sánchez-Vizcaíno, José Manuel (2014) First molecular detection and characterization of herpesvirus and poxvirus in a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). BMC veterinary research, 10 . p. 968. ISSN 1746-6148

[thumbnail of 716.pdf]
Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:



Herpesvirus and poxvirus can infect a wide range of species: herpesvirus genetic material has been detected and amplified in five species of the superfamily Pinnipedia; poxvirus genetic material, in eight species of Pinnipedia. To date, however, genetic material of these viruses has not been detected in walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), another marine mammal of the Pinnipedia clade, even though anti-herpesvirus antibodies have been detected in these animals.


In February 2013, a 9-year-old healthy captive female Pacific walrus died unexpectedly at L'Oceanografic (Valencia, Spain). Herpesvirus was detected in pharyngeal tonsil tissue by PCR. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the virus belongs to the subfamily Gammaherpesvirinae. Poxvirus was also detected by PCR in skin, pre-scapular and tracheobronchial lymph nodes and tonsils. Gross lesions were not detected in any tissue, but histopathological analyses of pharyngeal tonsils and lymph nodes revealed remarkable lymphoid depletion and lymphocytolysis. Similar histopathological lesions have been previously described in bovine calves infected with an alphaherpesvirus, and in northern elephant seals infected with a gammaherpesvirus that is closely related to the herpesvirus found in this case. Intracytoplasmic eosinophilic inclusion bodies, consistent with poxviral infection, were also observed in the epithelium of the tonsilar mucosa.


To our knowledge, this is the first molecular identification of herpesvirus and poxvirus in a walrus. Neither virus was likely to have contributed directly to the death of our animal.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Herpesvirus, Poxvirus, Walrus, Pinniped
Subjects:Medical sciences > Veterinary
ID Code:39631
Deposited On:20 Dec 2016 09:32
Last Modified:22 Dec 2016 11:49

Origin of downloads

Repository Staff Only: item control page