Phocid herpesvirus-1 (PhHV-1, subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae) was isolated from harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) in the Netherlands in 1985, and was subsequently identified in Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) from California, USA in the 1990s. PhHV-1–associated pathology was first recognized in harbor seal carcasses submitted to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada in 2000, and 63 cases were identified by 2008. A review of these cases indicated that PhHV-1–associated disease is widespread in harbor seals in the wild and within rehabilitation facilities in the coastal northeastern Pacific (including British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, USA). Morbidity and mortality occurred primarily in neonatal and weanling seal pups, and was due to PhHV-1 alone, or in combination with other disease processes. All cases occurred between July and October, corresponding to the pupping and weaning seasons in this area. Although previous publications have described the prevalence of antibody to PhHV-1 in harbor seals from British Columbia, Canada and Washington, USA this is the first study to focus on the epidemiology and pathology of the virus in this region.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3