Fatal canine distemper infection in a pack of African wild dogs in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania
Goller KV1, Fyumagwa RD, Nikolin V, East ML, Kilewo M, Speck S, Müller T, Matzke M, Wibbelt G.
- Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany. email@example.com
In 2007, disease related mortality occurred in one African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) pack close to the north-eastern boundary of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Histopathological examination of tissues from six animals revealed that the main pathologic changes comprised interstitial pneumonia and suppurative to necrotizing bronchopneumonia. Respiratory epithelial cells contained numerous eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies and multiple syncytial cells were found throughout the parenchymal tissue, both reacting clearly positive with antibodies against canine distemper virus (CDV) antigen. Phylogenetic analysis based on a 388 nucleotide (nt) fragment of the CDV phosphoprotein (P) gene revealed that the pack was infected with a CDV variant most closely related to Tanzanian variants, including those obtained in 1994 during a CDV epidemic in the Serengeti National Park and from captive African wild dogs in the Mkomazi Game Reserve in 2000. Phylogenetic analysis of a 335-nt fragment of the fusion (F) gene confirmed that the pack in 2007 was infected with a variant most closely related to one variant from 1994 during the epidemic in the Serengeti National Park from which a comparable fragment is available. Screening of tissue samples for concurrent infections revealed evidence of canine parvovirus, Streptococcus equi subsp. ruminatorum and Hepatozoon sp. No evidence of infection with Babesia sp. or rabies virus was found. Possible implications of concurrent infections are discussed. This is the first molecular characterisation of CDV in free-ranging African wild dogs and only the third confirmed case of fatal CDV infection in a free-ranging pack.