By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey environmental officials are joining the probe into a rash of dead dolphins washing up along the shore.

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Over the last month, two dozen dolphins have been found dead on New Jersey beaches — including three in Cape May County since Thursday.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has been looking at the issue from the start. Now, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will assist.

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“Test results on four dolphins have been returned — those four dolphins died of pneumonia. One of those dolphins had a virus that is found in dolphins and can be a cyclical disease,” says NJ DEP spokesman Larry Hajna.

If that virus is now in an “up” cycle, there’s little anyone can do about it, Hajna says. But, he notes, it would not present a health hazard to humans, so the beaches are safe.

Hajna expects conclusive findings in several weeks. The issue has surfaced in several mid-Atlantic states (see related story).

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