Canine virus outbreak hits Ranchi zoo, all seven foxes die

Ranchi: All the seven foxes at Ranchi’s Birsa zoo died in the last one month of the highly-contagious canine distemper virus (CDV), officials said on Wednesday.
Foxes, an endangered species, are protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
“The first fox death was reported in the first week of March. Thereafter, one by one all the foxes in the zoo died in a month. Most of the foxes were, however, aged,” director of Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park Jabbar Singh told PTI.
Experts of the Ranchi Veterinary College were informed when the first death was reported, he said.
“We have also sent samples to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) for examination. Though we have not yet received any official report from the IVRI, the institute verbally hinted that the deaths might be due to CDV,” Singh said.
A scientist of IVRI-Bareilly told PTI that the sample was found to be CDV-positive.
“The zoo authority has been informed about this and has also been suggested precautionary measures needed to be taken for protecting other animals. We will send the official report to the zoo authority in a day or two,” the scientist said on condition of anonymity.
Canine distemper, a naturally occurring viral infection, is considered fatal for canine families such as fox, dogs and wolves. It infects the lungs and affects respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems, experts said.
“We found symptoms of pneumonia in lungs and respiratory problems. We suspect a contagious disease caused the death of the animals,” said Dr MK Gupta, the chairman of Ranchi Veterinary College’s Pathology Department, who conducted the post-mortem.
Most of the foxes were brought to the zoo around 2004 after being rescued, zoo officials said.
The zoo is scheduled to undertake a massive vaccination drive for the canines this month, they said.
“The vaccine dose is not available in the open market. We have to procure it from some other zoos,” Singh said. —PTI


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