The endangered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) was recently reintroduced into Arizona and New Mexico (USA). In 1999 and 2000, pups from three litters that were part of the reintroduction program died of either canine parvovirus or canine distemper. Overall, half (seven of 14) of the pups died of either canine parvovirus or canine distemper. The parents and their litters were analyzed for variation at the class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene DRB1. Similar MHC genes are related to disease resistance in other species. All six of the surviving pups genotyped for the MHC gene were heterozygous while five of the pups that died were heterozygous and one was homozygous. Resistance to pathogens is an important aspect of the management and long-term survival of endangered taxa, such as the Mexican wolf.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4