Journal of Wildlife Diseases (1993)

DOI: 10.7589/0090-3558-29.1.103


In 1988 and 1989, thousands of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) died in the North Sea from phocine distemper infection. The morphology of thyroid glands from 40 harbor seals found dead on the North Sea coastlines of Schleswig-Holstein, Federal Republic of Germany, during an epizootic of phocine distemper, was compared with the morphology of thyroid glands from five healthy harbor seals collected in Iceland. Thyroid glands from seven harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) found dead in 1990 on the North Sea coastlines also were evaluated. Colloid depletion and fibrosis were found in the thyroid glands of harbor seals which died during the epizootic, but not in animals from Iceland. Thyroid glands of the porpoises showed similar lesions, but to a lesser degree, than those observed in the North Sea seals.