Plague dogs

Wild animals at risk from domestic animal diseases

source: Stephanie Pain
New Scientist April 19 1997
starts p32, 6 pages long

The expansion of the human population into new areas can carry risks for endangered wildlife across the world. Ethiopian wolves and African wild dogs, for example, are at risk from diseases caught from domestic dogs, and Serengeti lions were infected by canine distemper in 1994. Mustelids, such as otters, are especially vulnerable to canine distemper. Parvovirus can kill the young of wild canids, and rabies has also affected Ethiopian wolves and African wild dogs. Cats can also pass on diseases to wild animals.

Wild animals tend to live at lower population densities than domestic animals, so infections can die out, whereas they may persist among domestic animals. There is concern that vaccination could cause more problems than itself, since wild animals may react in unexpected ways to a vaccine. Intervention can be successful when there is a clear need. One example is the successful treatment of endangered Arctic foxes for mange, carried out by Russian scientists. Cubs were given anti-parasite drugs, and fewer died of mange. Vaccination of domestic animals may, however, be more useful than trying to treat wild animals themselves. A drive to vaccinate dogs against rabies in Ethiopia was well received by local people. The dogs were not accustomed to being handled by humans, since the local religion is Islam, according to which dogs are unclean. This presented some challenges for the vaccination team, which it has overcome.