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Russian and US veterinarians collaborate to solve mysterious wild tiger deaths
Date:9/30/2011

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 Kha
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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