Jan 5, 2014
Endangered tigers, red pandas and lions in the country are succumbing to infection caused by canine distemper virus (CDV), a disease common in domestic dogs. The scientists at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly found the presence of CDV in the blood samples of dead animals. “Since last one year we have found many blood samples of dead tigers, red pandas and lions, who were positive for CDV. The disease has been found in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Patna Zoo and many areas of West Bengal and Darjeeling,” said AK Sharma, principal scientist and in charge of Centre for Wildlife, IVRI. CDV affects different systems of the body including nervous and respiratory system in these animals. It breaks down the immunity system and causes various secondary bacterial infections which leads to their death. “As this disease damage the brain, it badly affect their decision making power. Due to this, the animals go beyond their natural habitat and enter human settlements. It leaves them an easy prey for poachers,” Sharma said. The source of CDV among tigers, lions and red pandas is the direct contact like licking. Even these animals are eating dogs infected with the virus. The disease is also spreading through infected material such as drinking water from same source. Sharma said, “If all the dogs are vaccinated in the buffer zone of forest, it could stop the spread of disease.” Researchers believe that many more species could have been exposed to this virus in the country. “We can say about the status of disease only after we collect blood samples of different species of animals from various areas of India,” said Gaya Prasad, assistant director general, animal health, Indian Council of Agriculture Research and acting director, IVRI.
As posted in Toi