Monday, January 6, 2014

Canine Distemper Virus Killing Lions, Tigers, and Red Pandas

A dog infected with canine distemper

It has recently been reported that lions, tigers, and red pandas in India are falling victim to infection caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV). Scientists at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly discovered the presence of the virus in blood samples collected from dead animals. According to A.K Sharma, principal scientist and in-charge of IVRI's Center for Wildlife, the team has found many blood samples of lions, tigers, and red pandas since last year. The disease has been found in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, the Patna Zoo, and many areas of Darjeeling and West Bengal. He further added that the disease is known to damage the brain, which badly affects the animals' decision-making power. This, in turn, results in animals venturing outside their natural habitat and into human settlements making them vulnerable to poachers. The main source of CDV transmission among lions, tigers, and red pandas is direct contact like licking and predation in which lions and tigers kill and eat the dogs infected with the virus. In addition, the disease is also spreading through infected material such as drinking water from the same source.
Red panda

This article clearly indicates about the dangers of contact between wild animals and domestic animals in India and other parts of the world. In places where there are stray dogs roaming around, there is a great chance that these animals are infected with canine distemper and transmit the disease to wild animals by means of direct contact. This spells major trouble for endangered species such as lions, tigers, red pandas, etc. whose decline in numbers due to CDV combined with poaching, habitat destruction, and other man-made threats can greatly hinder the conservation efforts aimed at saving them. This is why it is absolutely essential to vaccinate dogs that are known to frequent the buffer zones of forests. Furthermore, stray dogs should be given a second chance in which they can be provided shelters in the care of their potential human adopters instead of being left out to roam the streets in various areas making them prone to disease and abuse. This way, lives of both domestic and wild animals can be saved.

View article here          

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