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Understanding How Canine Distemper Affects African Lions

In 1994 an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) killed an estimated 1,000 Serengeti lions, one-third of this iconic population, within seven months. The Serengeti lions have been exposed to CDV on at least four other occasions; however, during those exposures the disease did not cause overt clinical symptoms of disease or mortality. The researchers seek to explain these patterns of disease reemergence. To accomplish this, they are using molecular approaches to characterize the role of host species in CDV maintenance, discern pathways of transmission and identify viral characteristics that contribute to clinical outcomes of CDV infection. Results will be used to inform surveillance and control strategies, thereby improving our ability to predict and prevent suffering and death in the Serengeti carnivore community.

Principal Investigator: Dr. L. Scott Mills, North Carolina State University

Co-sponsors: ZuPreem® Future Generations Fund

Study ID: D14ZO-013