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New Jersey Providing More Resources In Effort To Find What's Behind Dolphin Deaths

By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- New Jersey is stepping up its efforts to find out what is behind the recent rash of dolphin deaths at the shore.

It's a problem from New York to Virginia that the federal officials believe can be traced to a virus fatal to dolphins. So far, 12 of the more than six dozen dolphins that washed up on New Jersey beaches since early July tested positive for morbillivirus. With the crowds down the shore for Labor Day weekend, Larry Hajna with the Department of Environmental Protection offers this warning.

"While the morbillivirus itself does not transmit to people, there could be secondary pathogens that are present in the animals," Hajna says. "So we're strongly advising the public to stay away from the animals. Let the experts do their job."

It's unclear how long this problem could go on, but Hajna says the state has added resources coming from Trenton.

"We're putting airplanes up in the air and we're putting boats on the water and more boots on the ground," Hajna said. "We're also putting our money into testing."

Specifically performing future necropsies at a state laboratory in Ewing Township at state expense. Up to now, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine took the dolphins to the University of Pennsylvania, and paid for the exams themselves.

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