[MARMAM] Belugaskin Virus in Hudson River Churchill (Andrea Steffen )

Richard, Pierre Pierre.Richard at dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Tue Sep 14 12:47:18 PDT 2010

Regarding Andrea Steffen's earlier post:
I have been working on Canadian Arctic belugas for three decades and I have never seen lesions as severe as the ones she shows on http://www.pottwale.de/belugaskin. Belugas often have small pox-like lesions, about the size of a sliver dollar, but I personally have not seen such large lesions in the Churchill River belugas or elsewhere in their world range. I am told that similar lesions have been seen in the Saint-Lawrence, but rarely.

Anyway, I enquired with veterinary pathologists that are familiar with cetacean skin diseases, and the consensus so far is that, without a skin sample of one of the lesions, it is impossible to say what microbe is at fault. The lesions could be a severe case skin herpes, pox, Lacoziosis (aka Lobo), or something related. 

Dr Daniel Martineau (DVM, Professor Université de Montréal) has kindly volunteered a list of relevant papers. PDFs are downloadable from the link: 

Click on a PDF title to download it and then save it on your local disk.

Thanks to Andrea for her report.  We will try to get samples if the opportunity arises. But, upon close inspection of your pictures, I think that the photos you have may be of a single animal taken at different angles. So I wonder how prevalent this really is and if indeed such an opportunity will present itself.


Pierre Richard
204 983 5130 | facsimile 204 984-2403
Pierre.Richard at dfo-mpo.gc.ca <mailto:richardp at dfo-mpo.gc.ca> 
Research Scientist/ Chercheur scientifique 
Marine Mammal Research Program/ Programme de recherche sur les mammifères marins
Arctic Research Division / Division de la recherche sur l'Arctique
Central & Arctic Region / Région du Centre et de l'Arctique
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêches et Océans Canada
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N6
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada 


From: marmam-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:marmam-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Andrea Steffen
Sent: September 9, 2010 6:34 AM
To: marmam at lists.uvic.ca
Subject: [MARMAM] Subject:Belugaskin Virus in Hudson River Churchill ( Andrea Steffen )

Dear all. 
On Belugas of the Churchill river estuary, Manitoba, Canada we saw some animals with a lot of skin damages. In the websites: http://www.medvet.umontreal.ca/pathologie_microbiologie/beluga/anglais/virus_ang.asp <http://www.medvet.umontreal.ca/pathologie_microbiologie/beluga/anglais/virus_ang.asp> 
we found a report about herpes like virus found on Belugas in the St. Lawrence estuary.
We were wondering, whether the skin marks of these Churchill Belugas caused of the same virus or could it have other reasons?

For photos please use this address: http://www.pottwale.de/belugaskin <http://www.pottwale.de/belugaskin>  

For contact please use Email: Andrea.Steffen at wale-delfine.de 


Andrea Steffen 

Projektleiterin Dominika 
Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delfine e.V 
Hansa-allee 44 
40547 Düsseldorf 
Tel: 0211/ 55 95 70 
Email: Andrea.Steffen at wale-delfine.de 

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