Seal Virus Reaches Ireland

9th Oct 2002 Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV) has been found in a harbour seal on the Aran Islands. The disease was confirmed in a sample sent by UCG to the Dept. of Agriculture in Northern Ireland.

PDV has now killed over 15,000 seals on mainland Europe and over 2,000 in the UK. It represents a major threat to the Harbour Seal population in Ireland which has still not recovered from the last outbreak in 1988, with some populations still at only 70% of their pre-1988 levels.

The virus can infect both common seals and grey seal, though grey seals seem to be able to carry PDV without succumbing to it and so probably act as vectors for the disease.

PDV is not thought to present a risk to humans but evidence suggests that dogs and cetaceans may be succeptable.

Unfortunately, despite plenty of advanced warning the Irish Government has failed to initiate a national plan to cope with PDV. Therefore it is up to the best efforts of members of the public and NGO's to help deal with this outbreak.

Members of the public are advised not to touch dead seals but to report them, and any sick seals found, to the:

Irish Seal Sanctuary

(01) 835 4370.



In view of the fact that PDV (or a variant of it) may affect cetaceans, the IWDG would ask members of the public to report any strandings of whales, dolphins or porpoises (live or dead) to us as quickly as possible

For strandings contact:

Dr. Emer Rogan or Sinead Murphy

Dept. of Zoology, UCC.

Tel: 021 904197 / 904053

Mobile: 087 6995314




Dave Wall

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group

Tel: 087 2977931


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