Canine distemper virus: Sanitation only option

Non-availability of a vaccine is the major issue posing a headache to the zoo authorities.

Published: 13th January 2012 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:13 PM   |  A+A-


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sanitation is the only option left for the zoo authorities to check the spread of the deadly canine distemper virus, which has claimed eight jackals and two hyenas in the city zoo. Non-availability of a vaccine is the major issue posing a headache to the zoo authorities.

The animals in the city zoo are in danger of the spread of this airborne disease.Talking to Express, Zoo director K Udayavarman said he is in touch with a US-based company regarding the vaccination for canine distemper virus. “As far as we know, no vaccination is available in India. A US-based company Merial produces vaccination against the virus. However, transfer of the live attenuated virus requires permission of the Director General of Foreign Trade, which will be a time-consuming process. We have enquired whether Merial has any Indian branch. Currently, disinfection is the only method in front of the zoo authorities,” he added. The zoo authorities have burned the utensils used by the infected animals.

The workers who were in charge of the hyenas were asked to take leave for two days so as to check the spread through them. However, there are no  effective methods to check the spread of this airborne disease. Zoo authorities are hoping that the virus will be killed in sunlight.

 “The canine distemper virus is being reported in an Indian zoo for the very first time. Jackals and hyenas are close to the canine family. They are more susceptible to the virus,” he said.

 Asked about the spread of the virus to other animals, Udayavarman said cases of virus spread to primates have been reported in China and to bears in American zoos. There is a chance for the virus to affect tigers, lion etc too.

 “The Zoo Authority of India has asked the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University to study the issue so that vaccination against canine distemper could be included in the annual vaccination list,” Udayavarman said.

 Meanwhile, a high-level meeting was held in the zoo to discuss the virus infection.


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