An epizootic of vesicular disease occurred in a group of semi-domesticated California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) during the months of April and May 1997. Ten castrated mature male sea lions, ages 12 to 19 yr, were housed in three adjacent open-ocean net enclosures in San Diego Bay (California, USA). Four animals (40%) developed oral and extremity vesicles, anorexia, and were reluctant to perform learned behaviors. One animal developed vesicles but maintained a normal appetite and behavior. The remaining animals showed no clinical signs of infection. Virus (designated FADDL 7005) was isolated from four of the five animals that developed vesicles. Serum antibody titers to FADDL 7005, a previously untyped calicivirus, were demonstrated in animals that showed any combination of clinical signs and in two animals that did not show any clinical signs. No virus was isolated from five fecal samples collected from four of the group animals. Clinical signs lasted 4 to 20 days in affected animals. All affected animals recovered from infection. An experimental swine was inoculated with FADDL 7005 and developed vesicular disease, which was transmitted to another experimental swine upon contact. It is proposed that FADDL 7005 is a new San Miguel sea lion virus.
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