Using a virus neutralization technique, we found phocine distemper virus (PDV) antibody in 130 (83% of 157) harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) from the western North Atlantic sampled between 1988 and 1993 inclusive. In contrast, only 44 (24% of 185) hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) had antibodies against PDV even though they were sympatric with harp seals and were sampled over a similar period, from 1989 to 1994 inclusive. Antibodies occurred in 106 (41%) of 259 ringed seals (Phoca hispida); this prevalence was higher than expected given the solitary behavior and territoriality characteristic of this species. Seropositive ringed seals were found at each of seven locations across Arctic Canada from Baffin Bay to Amundsen Gulf at which samples were collected between 1992 and 1994. However, the prevalence of infection was highest where ringed seals are sympatric with harp seals in the eastern Canadian Arctic.

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