Viruses of the family Polyomaviridae infect a wide variety of avian and mammalian hosts with a broad spectrum of outcomes including asymptomatic infection, acute systemic disease, and tumor induction. In 2010, intranuclear viral inclusion bodies were identified in trophoblasts of a single northern fur seal (NFS; Callorhinus ursinus) placenta from a presumed healthy birth on St. Paul Island, Alaska. On transmission electron microscopy, virions were approximately 40 nm in diameter and were arranged in paracrystal-line arrays within the nucleus. The tissue was positive for the polyomaviral major capsid gene (VP1) by PCR, and the sequenced product revealed a novel Orthopolyomavirus. Twenty-nine additional NFS placentas, devoid of viral inclusions on histologic examination, were tested for polyomavirus by PCR; all were negative. The significance of this novel virus for the infected animal is unknown, but the virus does not appear to be very prevalent within the placentas from newborn northern fur seal pups.
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