Poxvirus is a disease that forms skin lesions on dolphins. It has been observed in both free-ranging and captive bottlenose dolphins.The large patches are made up of smaller spots. The color and size can change rapidly. The disease occurs frequently in captive dolphins and is endemic in some colonies. Dolphinpox is not contagious to humans like the pinniped version of the disease. In captivity, there appears to be a correlation between pox-like lesions and stress, environmental conditions, and the overall health of the animal. Poxvirus is not immunosuppressive unlike the cetacean morbillivirus. Poxvirus could worsen due to water temperature and quality, salinity levels or periods of environmental, physical, and/or mental stress. Dolphins under natural conditions often tolerate salinity changes, yet in captivity they have been destroyed by the combined effects of an otherwise mild disease superimposed on a severe skin condition resulting from overly dilute water.
We have been reporting on Maverick’s condition with the poxvirus since January 2014. He has shown signs of the disease for a minimum of 2 years. The disease did not pop up in the Mirage habitat until just months after Seaworld Orlando shipped Beetle and Cosmo over. This according to photo evidence archived on Flickr. Orlando is still dealing with the poxvirus as shown in photos sent to me in August 2014.