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  • 1.
    Vårhammar, Annelie
    Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science.
    Is there canine distemper virus in the Antarctic seal populations?2015Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    The highly contagious canine distemper virus (CDV) has caused many so called epizootics, i.e. widespread transmissions of severe diseases in animal populations. Antibodies to CDV have been found several times in the northern hemisphere, but only once in the 1980’s in the phocid seal populations on the remote continent of Antarctica. This raises the question of whether the virus is enzootic or if it has been eliminated from the seal populations, which brings forth this study with serological testing on recently sampled seals. In this study, samples of 49 crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus), 49 Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and 14 Ross seals (Ommatophoca rossii) from two separate expeditions with the Swedish icebreaker Oden in year 2008/2009 and 2010/2011 were tested for antibodies to CDV using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The ELISA was repeated three times on the same samples but unexpectedly showed inconsistent results. Statistical analysis revealed that there were significant differences in titre values between the three trials in all three species. The results must therefore be considered unreliable for the purpose of estimating antibody prevalence and should be discarded. The inconsistency could be explained by the ELISA kit being designed for dogs. Thus, the present study is valuable as a pilot study and shows that ELISA tests on seals developed for dogs should be treated with caution and that the samples need to be re-tested with other methods, preferably by using a virus neutralization test. The present study reviews the preceding literature concerning the prevalence of antibodies against CDV in the Antarctic seals, and also displays how the results of a future re-testing can be used to assess the susceptibility of a future outbreak of CDV in the seals of Antarctica.

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