Prelims level : Environment, Biodiversity Mains level : GS-III- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
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Why in News?

  • With doubled tiger populations in India, the loss of habitat, a decline of prey and poaching continues to be a threat to tigers’ survival.
  • Along with these, a potential virus — Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) — that can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in and around wildlife sanctuaries has started to raise concern among wildlife biologists.
  • Last year, over 20 lions from the Gir forest succumbed to the viral infection and now a guideline has been prepared by the NTCA to prevent the spillover of the disease to wild animals.

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

  • CDV is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
  • Canine distemper is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae (the same family of the viruses that causes measles, mumps, and bronchiolitis in humans).
  • Its common symptoms include high fever, eye inflammation and eye/nose discharge, labored breathing and coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy, and hardening of nose and footpads.
  • It affects a wide variety of animal families, including domestic and wild species of dogs, foxes, pandas, wolves, ferrets and large cats as well.

Risk of Disease Transfer:

  • A recent study notes that 86% of the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV antibodies in their bloodstream.
  • This means that the dogs are either currently infected or have been infected sometime in their life and have overcome the disease.
  • This finding points out that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to tigers and leopards that live in the park.

Preventive Measure:

  • The main aim should be to vaccinate the free-ranging and domestic dogs in the area around national parks.
  • The disease needs to be recognised and more targeted studies need to be initiated to collect baseline data on CDV from wherever they are reported from in wild carnivores.
  • Understanding the role of domestic animals as contributors to a local CDV reservoir is imperative precursor in considering control measures.
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