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Bacteria linked to deaths of bottlenose dolphins

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Scientists investigating the stranding of hundreds of dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico since early last year reported Thursday that they have identified Brucella bacteria in five of 21 tested and are trying to determine whether the deaths may be linked to last year's BP oil spill.

"We believe these five dolphins died from brucellosis," said Teri Rowles, coordinator of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Die-offs from bacterial infections could be occurring because the bacterium has become more lethal, but they could also be occurring, or be more severe, because the dolphins are more susceptible to infection."

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