GUWAHATI, Aug 19 - For the first time, Canine distemper disease has been detected in the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden here, which took the lives of five jackals in the past ten days.
Canine distemper, also known as ‘hardpad disease’, is a viral disease that affects a wide species of animals, including domestic and wild dogs, coyotes, foxes, pandas, wolves, ferrets, skunks, raccoons and large cats, as well as pinnipeds, some primates and a variety of other species.
“In the Guwahati zoo, for the first time, the disease has been detected. The disease can spread through aerosol or by contact. But till now, we are not sure about how the virus affected the jackals in the Zoo,” Bijoy Gogoi, a veterinary official of the State zoo, told The Assam Tribune.
“This disease can be commonly detected in domestic dogs. There is also a possibility that the virus came in contact with the jackals through visitors. Earlier, two lions in the Delhi zoo and ten lions in the Etawah Safari Park in Uttar Pradesh died of the disease.
In the zoo, all those five jackals are sub-adult and below one-year of age. The disease has been confirmed by the research centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research located in Meghalaya.
“We have already taken all preventive measures. The enclosure for jackals has already been sealed and visitors are now not allowed to go near it. Now, there are eight jackals, including one sub-adult, and we will shift them from the enclosure to the observation centre by Monday. They will be shifted back to the enclosure after proper sterilization of the place. The vaccine for Canine distemper is only available in the USA. We have made all necessary communication to import it. The vaccine will be available in Guwahati by Monday,” Gogoi informed.
Scientists from ICAR have also visited the Zoo. The vaccination to fight canine distemper will cover tigers, lions, hyenas and jackals in the Zoo in the first phase,” Gogoi said. The veterinary specialist said it is a serious disease for the animals. The virus attacks the brain and can kill an animal quickly.
Zoo’s Divisional Forest Officer Tejas Mariswamy said, “The actual reason behind the mortality is yet to be detected. ... We have taken all measures to prevent the spread of the disease.”