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Morbillivirus infection investigation in free living Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) from Mamirauá Institute for sustainable development, Tefé, Amazon, Brazil

Grant number: 15/04261-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2015
Effective date (End): May 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Veterinary Medicine - Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Principal researcher:Lara Borges Keid
Grantee:Thalita Faita
Home Institution: Faculdade de Zootecnia e Engenharia de Alimentos (FZEA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Pirassununga , SP, Brazil


Although emerging infectious diseases cause international concerns regarding the health of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, there is little information about infectious diseases in pluvial cetaceans. Morbillivirus is an important pathogen causing a great impact on the health and conservation status of cetaceans worldwide. The Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), a strictly pluvial species is distributed among the Amazon and Orinoco River basins. Until 2008 I. geoffrensis was classified as a vulnerable species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Brazilian Institute for the Environment (IBAMA). After 2008, insufficient data about the population size, ecology, and potential risks were available in order to determine the conservation status of the species. The species is also included in the Appendices II of the Convention on Internacional Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), considered a possible threatened species. There is little information regarding the occurrence of infectious diseases in this species, with no information about Morbillivirus infections. The Morbillivirus has the potential of causing a highly transmissible infection, especially in naïve cetacean populations. Infected animals may present loss of body condition, fever, nasal and ocular discharge, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological clinical signs. Lymphoid depletion leading to immunosuppression can also be observed. Therefore, the objective of the present study is to investigate the occurrence of Morbillivirus infection in 161 free-living Amazon River Dolphins from Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, Tefé, Amazon, Brazil. Samples of milk, whole blood, and oral, nasal, and anal swabs will be used to the direct detection of Morbillivirus by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This investigation may result in relevant information regarding the sanitary status of this population, and collaborate with the conservation of this species of vital importance to the Amazon ecosystem. (AU).

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