Examination of 31 male sperm whales (Physeter catodon) caught off the western coast of Iceland revealed three cases of genital papillomatosis involving the unsheathed penis. One subadult and two sexually mature bulls were affected. Gross lesions resembled papillomas common in terrestrial mammalian species. Transmission electron microscopy of these lesions revealed nonenveloped intranuclear virus particles 28–40 nm in diameter and round to hexagonal in shape. In two cases immunoperoxidase staining was negative for group-specific papillomavirus antigen. These findings indicate that the spectrum of animal species affected with virus-associated genital papillomatosis includes at least one globally distributed species of the order Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises).
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Vol. 23 • No. 3