(…) The study reported here was carried out in 1993-1997 when very few data were available on cetacean poxviruses. On the basis of the brick-shaped morphology of cetacean poxviruses (Van Bressem et al., 1993) and the biology of Chordopoxvirinae, we hypothesized that the viruses infecting dolphins and porpoises from the Southeast Pacific may share antigens with members of the Orthopoxvirus genus.
Thus, we conducted a serological survey for the presence of orthopoxvirus neutralising antibodies in 58 small cetaceans caught off Peru in 1993-1995. We tested for cowpox virus as a representative member of the genus Orthopoxvirus that infects mammals belonging to different orders, including Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates), which are phylogenetically closely related to cetaceans (Milinkovitch et al., 1998; Gatesy et al., 1999). (…)