GUWAHATI: Eight jackals died of canine distemper disease at the Assam State Zoo, widely known as Guwahati Zoo, sending officials into a tizzy.
The deaths, occurring over the past two weeks following the spread of canine distemper virus, prompted the authorities to put in place precautionary measures. Canine distemper is a viral disease and it could affect domestic as well as wild animals.
“We suspect canine distemper virus had caused the deaths of eight of the 18 jackals that we had in the zoo. There have been instances of the virus spreading to other animals, including tigers and lions, in other zoos. So, we are not taking any chances. We have put in place all precautionary measures to prevent it from spreading further,” divisional forest officer Tejas Mariswamy told TNIE.
Explaining the measures, he said the remaining ten jackals had been shifted to an isolated enclosure. They, along with all animals which lived near the jackals’ enclosure, have been administered vaccines. The vaccines have been brought from another centre outside the state, he said.
“Canine distemper virus is common among dogs, especially domestic dogs, and cats. A lot of visitors come to the zoo every day and that may be a cause of the spread. Human beings do not get affected by the virus but they may be the carrier,” Mariswamy said. He rubbished reports that the virus got spread to the jackals from some stray dogs.
This is for the first time that canine distemper disease has been detected in Guwahati Zoo. The virus attacks the brain of animals. According to vets, the disease could spread through aerosol or by contact.