In June 2000, 21 adult harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsii were found dead along a localized section of the central California coast. Necropsy of 5 fresh carcasses revealed pulmonary congestion, consolidation, and hemorrhage. Histopathological changes in lungs from 2 of these seals included a necrotizing lymphocytic and histocytic lobar pneumonia with intra-lesional bacteria. A coronavirus (CoV) was detected in archived tissues from 1 of the 5 seals via a degenerate PCR for nidoviral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), and was subsequently confirmed via specific PCR. Based on the partial RdRp sequence, the CoV was identified as a novel, divergent member of the CoV group 1a. The virus is tentatively named harbor seal coronavirus (HSCoV). The clinical significance of HSCoV and its involvement in the etiology of the epizootic pneumonia and deaths of the harbor seals is uncertain.
- Harbor seal
- Phoca vitulina richardsii
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics