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Tests underway to determine whether dolphin virus killed whales, too

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The virus that has killed nearly 800 bottlenose dolphins off the East Coast has turned up in four whales that have washed ashore, a potentially troubling development if it is shown to be the cause of their deaths, a government marine expert said Thursday.

But it is too early to know whether cetacean morbillivirus killed three humpback whales and one pygmy sperm whale that have stranded since July 1 between Massachusetts and Georgia, said Teri Rowles, director of the marine mammal health and stranding response program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service. A fourth humpback whale was too decomposed to allow reliable testing and results are not yet available on two other pygmy sperm whales, she said.

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