Viral distemper now found in porpoises.
PM examination of two porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) found dead on the coast of Northern Ireland revealed severe pneumonia. Acidophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies highly specific for morbillivirus infection were detected in bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium. There was also widespread degeneration and necrosis of neurons, gliosis and perivascular cuffing in the brain. Main neurons contained inclusion bodies. Morbillivirus antigen was detected in both porpoises. Microscopic changes were similar to those of canine distemper infection in other species, including seals. This is the first report of morbillivirus in cetaceans.