NTCA sounds alert for deadly virus stalking tigers

Tiger in Dudhwa park tested positive for canine distemper virus last month; four tigers died of it last year

By Ankur Paliwal
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015


A deadly virus appears to be stalking the endangered tiger population in the country. In view of the threat from a deadly canine distemper virus, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has issued an “urgent” letter to chief wildlife wardens of all tiger ranges in the country. The letter issued on January 13 asks the wardens to launch a special drive with veterinary departments of the state to deal with the problem.

In December, a tiger from Dudhwa tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh tested positive for the virus. On January 10, two lion cubs at the Patna zoo also tested positive for the virus.

The virus, which is common among dogs, spreads to carnivores when the latter comes in contact or eats infected dogs. According to NTCA, the disease is incurable. It causes high fever, watery eyes, lethargy, paralysis and death. The infected animals have also been observed to display strange behaviour with disorientation, inability to predate, besides loss of fear, says NTCA.

NTCA directive on prevention

Media reports quoted Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NTCA, saying that in the past year the canine distemper virus has killed at least four tigers and several other animals across northern and eastern India. Gopal has advised the wardens to create a barrier through prophylactic immunisation of dogs in the buffer area of tiger reserves. NTCA has also directed that blood and tissue samples of the dead tigers should be collected to carry out test for the virus.

A K Sharma, head scientist at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute which has conducted the tests for the virus, told media, “These are disturbing finds. The cases were quite distant from each other. Some from an area where there are no dogs. So it appears the virus is spreading.”
NTCA had issued a directive on preventive measures to deal with canine distemper virus last year in June. The measures include regular vaccination of dogs, cats and stray cattle living around tiger reserves, reporting of strange behavior in large cats and animals around tiger reserves, collection of tissue of dead animals for pathological analysis and periodical checking of water quality in tiger reserves.


Canine distemper virus: An emerging disease in wild endangered Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica)

Canine distemper epizootic in lions, tigers, and leopards in North America

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  • All India Dog Shows being

    All India Dog Shows being organized for commercial purposes in all part of country without production of vaccination certificates and screening of the participant 'carrier' dogs or the dogs at 'incubation' stage of a disease with serological/biochemical kits for communicable diseases is one of the most important factors for the spread of Canine Distemper among our critically endangered wildlife species, if such Shows are organized in a town or city where any zoo or wildlife sanctuary is situated nearby. A PIL was filed recently at Hon'ble Allahabad High Court in this issue. The Judgement order is as follows:
    Chief Justice's Court
    Case :- PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 61400 of 2013
    Petitioner :- Suraj Pal
    Respondent :- Union Of India Thru Secy. And 8 Others
    Counsel for Petitioner :- Anurag Khanna
    Counsel for Respondent :- C.S.C.,A.S.G.I.(2013/8132)
    Hon'ble Dr. Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud,Chief Justice
    Hon'ble Sanjay Misra,J.
    The grievance in this public interest litigation relates to the
    animals which are displayed in Dog Shows across the State. The
    submission of the petitioner is that this is resulting in the spread of
    Canine Distemper Virus especially because the authorities are not
    insisting on the production of an appropriate certificate
    documenting that each of the participating animals has been duly
    Having regard to the limited nature of the grievance, we are of the
    view that the petition can be disposed of by directing the
    Secretary, Local Self Government, Uttar Pradesh and the Chief
    Veterinary Officer to take due cognizance of the grievance which
    has been made in this PIL and to issue appropriate directions
    thereon so as to obviate the complaint which has been made in this
    case. If a representation is made within a period of two weeks from
    today along with a certified copy of this order, necessary action
    shall be taken thereon expeditiously preferably within a period of
    two months thereafter.
    The petition is accordingly disposed of.
    There shall be no order as to costs.
    Order Date :- 11.11.2013
    (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, C.J.)
    (Sanjay Misra, J.)

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