Mustelid herpesvirus-2, a novel herpes infection in northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

Marion Tseng, Michelle Fleetwood, Aimee Reed, Verena A. Gill, R. Keith Harris, Robert B. Moeller, Thomas P. Lipscomb, Jonna A Mazet, Tracey Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Oral ulcerations and plaques with epithelial eosinophilic intranuclear inclusions were observed in northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) that died or were admitted for rehabilitation after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) in Alaska, USA. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated the presence of herpesviral virions. Additionally, a serologic study from 2004 to 2005 found a high prevalence of exposure to a herpesvirus in livecaptured otters. Tissues from 29 otters after the EVOS and nasal swabs from 83 live-captured otters in the Kodiak Archipelago were tested for herpesviral DNA. Analysis identified a novel herpesvirus in the gamma subfamily, most closely related to Mustelid herpesvirus-1 from badgers. Results indicated that this herpesvirus is associated with ulcerative lesions but is also commonly found in secretions of healthy northern sea otters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Alaska
  • Enhydra lutris kenyoni
  • Herpesvirus
  • Northern sea otter
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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