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1 April 2021 MODIFIED LIVE DISTEMPER VACCINES CARRY LOW MORTALITY RISK FOR CAPTIVE AFRICAN WILD DOGS, LYCAON PICTUS
Rosie Woodroffe
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Abstract

Recently, canine distemper virus (CDV) has been linked to population declines in the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). As CDV appears able to persist in wildlife, threats to free-ranging wild dogs cannot be eliminated by vaccinating domestic dogs. Conservation managers may therefore consider CDV vaccination of wild dogs in highly threatened populations. For use in field conservation, the ideal CDV vaccine would be safe, immunogenic, and readily available in Africa. The CDV vaccine type most commonly used for domestic dogs (modified live vaccine) is available in Africa, and apparently immunogenic in wild dogs, but has been linked to fatal vaccine-induced distemper in captive wild dogs. However, alternatives are either ineffective (inactivated vaccine) or difficult to obtain in Africa (recombinant vaccine). Data from a questionnaire survey of zoo vaccination practices were therefore combined with studbook tracing to assess the safety of modified live CDV vaccine in captive African wild dogs. Among 135 wild dog pups given modified live CDV vaccine for the first time, there was a single, unconfirmed, case of potential vaccine-induced distemper. Pups given modified live vaccine survived better than those given inactivated vaccine or no vaccine. Although studbook tracing revealed higher overall pup survival at zoos which responded to the questionnaire than at zoos which did not, tracing of all pups born during a 20-yr period that lived long enough to be vaccinated (n = 698 pups in 155 litters) revealed no mortality events consistent with vaccine-induced distemper. Modified live CDV vaccine thus appears to carry low mortality risks for African wild dog pups in captivity, and may warrant trials in free-ranging populations.

Copyright 2021 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Rosie Woodroffe "MODIFIED LIVE DISTEMPER VACCINES CARRY LOW MORTALITY RISK FOR CAPTIVE AFRICAN WILD DOGS, LYCAON PICTUS," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 52(1), 176-184, (1 April 2021). https://doi.org/10.1638/2020-0045
Accepted: 10 October 2020; Published: 1 April 2021
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