Mystery Of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Solved After Scientists Identify Virus That Causes 'Melting' Starfish

November 17, 2014 9:35 PM

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Mystery Of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Solved After Scientists Identify Virus That Causes 'Melting' Starfish

When millions of starfish began spontaneously disintegrating along the West Coast of North America last summer, scientists were at a loss. Was it environmental? A bacteria? Or something anthropogenic? The offender, it turns out, was a previously unknown virus that essentially turns sea stars into “goo,” according to a new study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The virus belongs to a group of viruses known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms in unvaccinated dogs, according to National Geographic. Scientists named the virus sea star-associated densovirus. Similar viruses have been found in other echinoderms, including sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

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