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Bacteria may have caused dolphin abortions, deaths

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Posted: Oct 27, 2011 5:17 PM
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Topics: dolphin, death, deaths, fetus, baby, gulf, mexico, spill, oil, brucella, bacteria

NEW ORLEANS - Dolphin experts say common bacteria known to cause abortions in marine mammals killed some of the hundreds of dolphins that have washed ashore in the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010. More than 100 of the dead dolphins were babies or fetuses.

But Teri Rowles and Stephanie Venn-Watson said they've found reports only of isolated cases of brucellosis in dolphins - not mass outbreaks and deaths.

Other strains of brucella are known to cause "abortion storms" in cattle and goats.

Rowles and Venn-Watson don't know if the germ has become more lethal, or whether something in the environment - possibly including last year's oil spill - damaged the dolphins' ability to fight off disease.

They say it will take long study to work that out.

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