Distemper Killing Amur Tigers

Distemper Killing Amur Tigers
Russian and US veterinarians collaborate to solve mysterious wild tiger deaths

A camera trap image of a Siberian (Amur) tiger in the Russian Far East. A team of health experts from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and several Russian organizations have confirmed the presence of distemper in wild tiger populations, a finding that will enable conservationists to formulate measures to mitigate this recent threat. Credit: Image courtesy of WCS Russia

September 30, 2011

A’ team of Russian veterinary colleagues and health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo are collaborating to understand how distemper — a virus afflicting domestic dogs and many wildlife species — may be a growing threat to Siberian (Amur) tigers.

The team presented its results at the first-ever Russian symposium on wildlife diseases held this week in the Russian Far East city of Ussurisk. The symposium underscores the growing recognition of the importance of the health sciences to successful wildlife conservation efforts.

Working at WCS’s Wildlife Health Center at the Bronx Zoo, Russian health experts and WCS pathologists used histology along with PCR and DNA sequencing to confirm and characterize the infection in two wild Siberian tigers from the Russian Far East. This diagnosis provides long-awaited genetic confirmation of the fact that distemper is impacting wild tigers, which WCS and Russian colleagues first documented in 2003.

The collaboration will enable conservationists to formulate health measures to counter this latest threat to the world’s largest cat.

The participants in the partnership included: Drs. Irina Korotkova and Galina Ivanchuk from the Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy; Elena Lyubchenko, county veterinarian for Ussuriski County, Drs. Anastasia Vysokikh and Mikhail Alshinetskiy from the Moscow Zoo; and Drs. Denise McAloose and Tracie Seimon from WCS.

Last year a tigress “Galia” — studied by WCS researchers for eight years in Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve in the Russian Far East — walked into the village of Terney. Galia displayed abnormal neurologic signs, seemingly unfazed by the new surrounding, appeared gaunt, and was searching for dogs as an easy meal. The tiger was shot by local police after several capture attempts failed. In November 2003, a similar event occurred when an otherwise healthy looking wild tigress walked into the village of Pokrovka in Khabarovski Krai. WCS staff working in the area immobilized the animal and worked with local Russian veterinarian Evgeny Slabe in treating the tiger, which later died in captivity. Samples for the diagnosis of distemper were collected only from these two animals.

Several other examples of tigers entering villages or stalling traffic on major roadways — behavior possibly indicative of distemper — have been reported in recent years.

“This exchange provides a foundation for elucidating potential disease threats to tigers in the Russian Far East,” said Irina Korotkova of the Primorskaya Agricultural Academy. “Understanding the role of distemper in our wild Amur tiger population is vitally important.”

Distemper is found worldwide in domestic dogs and has caused infection and death in wild species such as lynx and bobcats in Canada, Baikal seals in Russia, lions in the Serengeti ecosystem in Africa, and raccoons and the endangered black footed ferret in the United States.

“With all the threats facing Siberian tigers from poaching and habitat loss, relatively little research has been done on diseases that may afflict tigers,” said Dale Miquelle, WCS Director of Russia Programs. “There are no records of tigers entering villages and behaving so abnormally before 2000, so this appears to be a new development and new threat. Understanding whether disease is a major source of mortality for Siberian tigers is crucial for future conservation efforts.”

Anatoly Astafiev, Director of Sikhote-Alin Reserve, said, “We have seen a fall in tiger numbers within our reserve, so it is very important to know that at least one of the causes is a recognizable disease, something we may be able to address and potentially prevent.”

Canine distemper is controlled in domestic dogs through vaccination. In Africa, massive vaccination campaigns of dogs in villages surrounding the Serengeti appear to have been effective in reducing the disease’s impact on lions.

Dr. Denise McAloose, WCS’s Chief Pathologist and leader of the investigation, said, “This is a great example of what international collaboration can achieve. Without our Russian associates there on the spot, knowing what samples to collect and how to preserve these specimens, samples would never have made it to our lab, and the cause of death would remain unknown. It’s great that we’re all here together to work on this issue as a team.”

WCS is working with staff from the Primorskaya Agriculture Academy and other partners to establish a wildlife lab in Ussurisk to facilitate local diagnostic testing, although it will take several years until the lab is adequately funded and fully functional.

McAloose added: “Until then, there’s still much to do including identifying the source of the disease.”

It is still uncertain how tigers may have contracted the disease and whether it originated in another wild animal species or domestic dogs, both of which can act as reservoirs for the infection.

Latest reports suggest that fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild; 1,000 are breeding females.

Provided by Wildlife Conservation Society

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-russian-veterinarians-collaborate-mysterious-wild.html

Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 1

Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 1

Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 1

Arthur the Tiger Exploring On First Day at Big Cat Rescue

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University of MO Alumni Help With Fence Clearing

University of MO Alumni Help With Interior Fence Clearing. This is NOT our perimeter fence, but just separates Intern housing from the sanctuary.

University of MO Alumni Help With Fence Clearing

University of MO Alumni Help With Interior Fence Clearing

University of MO Alumni Help With Fence Clearing

University of MO Alumni Help With Interior Fence Clearing

New cage and signs for Amanda, Arthur and Andre Tigers

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Vern Mowing 55 Acres of Grass.  He just turned 70 in August.

Vern Mowing 55 Acres of Grass. He just turned 70 in August.

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Green Shirt Matt leads a Feeding Tour

Green Shirt Matt leads a Feeding Tour

Someone bashed up our sign and shot holes in it on Easy Street

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So pretty outside, I rode my bike the 4 miles to work

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Chris filming Reno up in the tree going after a Bruno pizza box

Chris filming Reno up in the tree going after a Bruno pizza box

Operations Manager Gale's cats watch Cheetaro get his Bruno box

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Arthur, one of the new TX tigers checks out his platforms

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Jumanji the black leopard plays dead to sneak up on Bruno Pizza

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Then the leap, attack and kill by the black leopard on the box

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As world growls, China sends tigers to North Korea

Date: 17-Apr-09
Country: CHINA

BEIJING – China will send five tigers as “friendship envoys” to North Korea, a provincial government website said on Thursday, even as reclusive Pyongyang declared it would restart a nuclear plant and expelled UN inspectors.

The three Siberian tigers from the northeast city of Dalian and two Bengal tigers from Sichuan in the southwest, were cleared for shipment on April 9, the quarantine bureau of Liaoning province said on its website.

They will be sent to a North Korea as “friendship envoys”, it said.

China joined the UN Security Council in condemning a rocket launch by North Korea earlier this month, but has otherwise refrained from publicly chiding its ally and neighbour.

Chinese analysts say their country is trying to avoid escalating the situation or losing diplomatic influence with North Korea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu again called for calm in a press conference in Beijing on Thursday after North Korea expelled nuclear inspectors.

Two yaks and four camels sent by the same Dalian zoo in February had successfully cleared 60 days of quarantine in North Korea and were now being viewed by North Korean tourists, the Liaoning Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said.

And a Beijing opera troupe performed during the “April Spring Friendship Art Festival” in Pyongyang on Thursday in the first show of Beijing opera in the decades-long history of show.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby and Yu Le; Editing by Nick Macfie)

http://www.planetark.org/enviro-news/item/52470

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