Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) found to be cause of death in Gir lions

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 05, 2018

An Asiatic lion relaxes in its open cage at Kankaria Zoo in Ahmedabad in this photograph take on Wednesday.   -  THE HINDU

Scientists from ICMR-NIV recover complete CDV genome for the first time in India

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) caused the death of five Asiatic lions in Gir forest, Gujarat, the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) National Institute of Virology (NIV) has found.

In the past, CDV has wiped out 30 per cent of the lion population in the Serengeti forests in East Africa. Considering the threat posed by CDV, ICMR has requested the Centre to take immediate steps to save the Asiatic lions, which are heading towards extinction.

As a precautionary measure, 300 shots of CDV vaccine are being imported from the US. ICMR has also recommended that the Gir lions be placed in two to three different sanctuaries.

For the first time, NIV has recovered a complete genome of CDV. The sequence was compared to available CDV sequences and was found to be related to the East African strains. The scientists at ICMR-NIV recommended the existing CDV vaccine, which should work as a protective intervention for the Gir lions.

CDV causes a highly contagious and life-threatening disease in dogs. CDV also affects other wild carnivores, including wolves, foxes, raccoons, red pandas, ferrets, hyenas, tigers, and lions. The prevalence of this virus and its diversity in the country’s wildlife has not been studied.

There are only a few reports available on the detection of CDV in captive wild carnivores, including tigers and red panda. A report of CDV infection from Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, in 2016, which was confirmed by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, found dogs to be the primary source of infection and virus transmission.

Published on October 05, 2018

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