Dog virus found attacking Indonesian tigers, making them lose fear of people

tiger photo
CC BY 2.0 wwarby

A few years ago, we wrote about how canine distemper was harming, and killing, some endangered Siberian tigers. Well, that's not over, and Siberian tigers aren't the only ones to suffer from what was originally a dog virus.

John Lewis, director of Wildlife Vets International, told the BBC that there was evidence that Indonesian tigers - which are classified as 'critically endangered' on the IUCN Red List - were also at risk.

"If you wind the clock back about 30 or 40 years, it was a dog disease - it was a canine virus and only affected dogs," Dr Lewis explained.

"But in the intervening years, the virus has evolved and has changed its pattern of animals it can infect to include marine mammals (such as seals) and big cats."

The virus can cause neurological problems (among other things) and cause certain tigers to behave strangely and even lose their fear of humans. This can make them easier targets for poachers or create situations where they are targeted because they scare people. This is an indirect way for the virus to kill tigers (it can also kill them from respiratory problems).


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