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    Asian tigers at disk from domestic dog virus

    NewsDogs and puppiesTuesday 11 June 2013
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    A wildlife expert has warned that some of the world’s rarest cat specifies are facing a deadly threat from a virus carried by domestic dogs. 

    John Lewis who is the director of Wildlife Vets international gave the warning as he said that there is strong evidence Indonesian tigers are at risk.

    The exact problem, canine distemper virus (CDV) has evolved in recent decades from infecting dogs to now infecting other animal groups. 

    Dr Lewis is now planning to work with vets in Indonesia to help develop a strategy to try and protect the endangered species.

    CDV is a very similar virus to measles. It was first noticed at the beginning of the 20th century and has been given as an explanation to the demise of the thlacine which is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger.

    Dr Lewis stated that "If you wind the clock back about 30 or 40 years, it was a dog disease - it was a canine virus and only affected dogs," Dr Lewis explained.

    "But in the intervening years, the virus has evolved and has changed its pattern of animals it can infect to include marine mammals (such as seals) and big cats."

    If CVD is to remain effective as a pathogen then it needs to be linked to a population of dogs.

    "In the mid-1990s, in the Serengeti, Africa, about 30% of the lions died from CDV, which came from dogs in surrounding villages.

    "It has also been recognised in the Asian big cat populations," he added.

    "Since 2000, in the Russian Far East, there have been a few cats reported as behaving strangely and coming into villages, apparently not showing much fear towards people.

    "In the past few years, tissue from at least a couple of those cats have now been confirmed as showing the presence of CDV infection.

    "There have not been too many cases at the moment, we think about three or four, but we think there could have been more that have gone undiagnosed."

    While some tigers have been able to build up a strong immune system to repel the virus, others have not been able and have died from it.

    The virus is very complicated and different symptoms can manifest. Some will die from respiratory problems such a pneumonia but some will have neurological problems like having seizures or losing fear of people. This seplls danger as tigers can now put themselves in the way of poachers or even heavy traffic areas.

    Already on the Indonesia island of Sumatra, locals have reported seeing big tigers coming into the villages and losing their fear of people.

    Already tigers face many threats such as habitat loss, degradation and poaching. Dr Lewis says that “ I think the third big threat now is likely to be disease, particularly one like CDV."

    Now a team of vets hope to head to the main danger point to try and get the facts of what is really going on and help develop a strategy to really try and put an end to this

     

     

    Source: BBC

    Photo: Wikipedia

     

     

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