Viral serologic survey of bowhead whales in Alaska. Academic Article uri icon


  • Serum samples from 21 of 36 Eskimo harvested bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) were positive by virus neutralization (50% endpoint titer > or = 1:28 and/or 100% endpoint titer > or = 1:20) for antibodies to at least one virus serotype from the calicivirus family, vesicular exanthema of swine virus (VESV) and San Miguel sea lion virus (SMSV). Many animals were positive to more than one serotype when using the Spearman-Karber (S-K) method for calculating antibody titers. The most common serotype detected was VESV F55 with 6 of 36 (17%) by the Monto and Bryan (MB) titer calculation method, and 17 of 36 (47%) by the S-K titer calculation method. Vesicular exanthema of swine virus 1934B antibody was detected in 3 of 36 (8%) and 5 of 36 (14%) whales using the MB and S-K methods, respectively. Vesicular exanthema of swine virus J56 antibody was detected in 3 of 36 (8%) by the S-K method only. All whales < 8.5 m (estimated yearlings, n = 6) were seronegative for VESV J56 and 1934B while 10% and 17% of the whales > 8.5 m were positive, respectively. Whales assumed to be sexually mature (> 13 m) had a higher prevalence of antibody to VESV 1934B and SMSV 8 than those < 13 m. Gender had an effect on seroprevalence of antibody to VESV 1934B as titers > or = 1:28 (S-K method) occurred in 18% of the females and 7% of the males. Antibody to other serotypes (SMSV 8 and 12) occurred less frequently (< 6%) at an antibody titer > or = 1:28 by the S-K method. All 36 whale sera were negative for antibody to VESV-A48, B51, C52, D53, E54, G55, H54, I55, and K54; Tillamook calicivirus, and dolphin morbillivirus; and SMSV-1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 13 by the S-K method.

published proceedings

  • J Wildl Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Hara, T. M., House, C., House, J. A., Suydam, R. S., & George, J. C.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • O'Hara, TM||House, C||House, JA||Suydam, RS||George, JC

publication date

  • January 1998