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

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

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