An adult male striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) stranded alive at Arico, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The dolphin died shortly after stranding, and a complete postmortem examination was performed. The most remarkable gross findings were two fleshy masses of approximately 1 cm diameter, near the tip of the penis. These masses were composed of hyperplastic epithelial cells with pigmentary incontinence. Ballooning degeneration and margination of chromatin was observed within the stratum corneum of the epidermis. A universal nested PCR assay that amplifies a conserved region within the polymerase gene of Herpesviridae was positive. The sequenced product was most closely related to a gammaherpesvirus that shared nucleotide identities of 93% with penile lesions from Atlantic and Mediterranean bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). This similarity supports the hypothesis of sexual transmission between species.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3