An adult male Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) was found stranded on the Atlantic coast of the USA on 28 January 2004. Necropsy revealed a focal papilloma-like penile lesion, the cells from which revealed single 4–6 μm basophilic intranuclear inclusions. Total DNA extracted from lesion material was tested using a pan-herpesvirus PCR assay that targets the DNA polymerase gene and found to be positive. When the amplified DNA fragment was cloned, sequenced, and compared to GenBank-deposited herpesvirus DNA polymerase sequences, the detected virus was determined to be a distinct member of the Gammaherpesvirinae subfamily of herpesviruses. This new virus, tentatively named Ziphiid herpesvirus type 1, was associated with but not determined to be the cause of genital disease in the Blainville's beaked whale.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1