A new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of United States of America is looking at the emergence of canine distemper virus in Amur tigers and how to protect this vulnerable endangered tiger population.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) (Canine morbillivirus), is commonly associated with domestic dogs but has also caused disease outbreaks in Serengeti lions, Ethiopian wolves and Channel Island foxes. CDV was first detected as the cause of death in Amur tigers in 2003 and is a real danger to these small and fragmented populations. Vaccination programmes of domestic dogs have been suggested as a solution.
Understanding the sources and carriers of infection which are traditionally associated with these dogs enables scientists to design interventions and this study concludes from the genetic analysis, that dogs cannot be the sole cause of CDV in tigers. The evidence suggests that interventions that focus only on domestic dogs would not be effective at preventing infection of tigers because of the role of other wildlife in disease transmission.
The study assessed the protection of vaccinated tigers against the locally circulating CDV strain and use modelling to compare the efficacy and cost of potential vaccination programs. The paper concludes that the vaccination of wild tigers would be the most cost-effective and efficient disease mitigation strategy.
You can read this, and other research literature on our Conservation Papers page.