Big cats face CDV infection threat

The disease is known to affect domestic animals, especially pet dogs

Big cats face CDV infection threat

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has directed the authorities concerned to keep a strict vigil on all reserved forests as there is a fear of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) infection among tigers, which is prevalent among dogs.

The disease usually affects domestic animals, especially pet dogs. Recent surveys have found that even wild animals are being attacked by this Canine virus. The NTCA has sent a circular to all wildlife conservators, directing them to take necessary steps to see to it that the virus does not spread to wild animals.

The circular states that wild animals are at risk as domestic animals and dogs in the villages on the fringes of the forest enter the forest, and there are possibilities of the spread of the virus. It has also directed to take steps to administer vaccination to all domestic animals in these villages.

If any animal is found to have been infected by the virus, it should be immediately reported and the viscera of the animals should be sent for laboratory for testing. All drinking water sources in forests should also be tested, the circular adds.

Symptoms

The symptoms of the infected animal includes high fever, eyes turning red, insomnia, vomiting, weakness, stroke and finally death. The virus also affects the brain and the affected canines succumb, said a veterinarian.

The virus was first spotted at Pokrovka in Russia in 2003 and some of the tigers died due to this infection. The disease, which usually spreads from dogs are very dangerous to wild animals like wolves, hyena, etc, said wildlife scientist Sanjay Gubbi.

Many lions in Africa died due to the virus in the mid 90s. The tigers infected by CDV suffer from breathing problems, vomit and lose fear of humans and even stray into human habitats. But, as tigers does not live in groups, the possibilities of the spread of the virus among other tigers is less, he said.

Preventive action

As wildlife sanctuaries are frequented by humans, it is common for the virus to spread to wild animals. Hence, it is important to take steps to prevent spread of the virus, especially among leopards, which are prone to infection as it is common for them to stray into villages and feed on dogs.

He suggested that pet dog owners should take their pets for regular check-ups and treat for any symptoms. The dogs should not be let out as it may infect other animals, he added.

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