Virus cause of more than 170 dolphin deaths in Brazil

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian scientists say a virus is the main cause for the death of close to 200 gray dolphins in little more than 40 days on the coast of Rio de Janeiro state.

The School of Oceanography of the State University of Rio de Janeiro said in a statement that an outbreak of "cetacean morbillivirus" is responsible for the death of more than 170 gray dolphins in the Bay of Sepetiba since late November. The bay is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The virus can damage the immune system of marine mammals.

What led to the outbreak and how long it will last are still unknown. Scientists are trying to determine other possible causes for the death of the dolphins.