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UF veterinary researchers discover new poxvirus in sea otters

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After studying unusual skin lesions seen in two orphaned sea otter pups, University of Florida scientists and their collaborators have identified a previously unknown poxvirus in the infected animals.

“To our knowledge, this is the first report of a poxvirus in a mustelid, the group of mammals including otters, mink, badgers and related species,” said Dr. James Wellehan, an assistant professor at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in virology and zoological medicine.

Members of the poxvirus family cause significant disease affecting both animal and human populations, and the emergence of smallpox in humans became a global pandemic.

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