A pack of wild dogs succumbed to the Canine Distemper virus, which often circulates in wildlife without clinical signs or mortalities. This has been the case in Kruger National Park for many years. The source of the virus is unknown but it is speculated that the Wild Dogs had contact with a feral dog or another animal carrying the virus.
“The strain of the disease varies and this strain which cost our Wild dogs’ lives appears to be particularly extreme. African wild dog packs do not often make contact with each other; therefore chances of other packs of dogs in the southern KNP becoming infected by this pack are very small however we remain alert. Such cases have shown that 100% mortality can occur if it infects a particular pack of wild dogs – e.g. Tswalu Desert Reserve also recently lost an entire pack to Distemper disease.”, said the GM: Veterinary Wildlife Services, Dr Markus Hofmeyr.
A joint investigation by both SANParks and State Veterinarians on various options of managing the situation such as increased monitoring of all other packs in the area and the possibility of targeted vaccination of adult wild dogs is underway. The disease has to date only affected one pack in the Park.
“The long-term solution to the problem is frequent vaccination of domestic dogs around conservation areas and we advise the public especially those in local communities bordering the Park to stick to routine vaccination of their domestic dogs as this assists us as well”, advised Hofmeyr.
Posters will be placed at strategic places inside the Park, with contact details to report any African wild dog sightings, so that guests can also assist management with the monitoring of the health status of wild dogs in the KNP.
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