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EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: South African National Parks (SANParks) 

The Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa lost a pack of African wild dogs, known as the Lower Sabie pack from a disease called canine distemper, towards the weekend of 21-22 May 2016. The disease commonly affects domestic dogs and can also spill over to the wildlife such as the African wild dogs, hyenas, lions and jackals. 

One of the wild dog packs found in the KNP
One of the wild dog packs found in the KNP

The virus often circulates in wildlife without clinical signs or mortalities, as has been the case in KNP for many years.  The exact source of the particular virus which affected this pack of wild dogs is not certain, but could have been due to contact with a feral dog or one of the other wildlife species infected by the disease.

“The strain of the disease varies and this strain which cost our wild dogs’ lives appears to be particularly extreme. African wild dog packs do not often make contact with each other; therefore chances of other packs of dogs in the southern KNP becoming infected by this pack are very small however we remain alert. Such cases have shown that 100% mortality can occur if it infects a particular pack of wild dogs – Tswalu Desert Reserve also recently lost an entire pack to distemper disease,” said the GM of the Veterinary Wildlife Services, Dr Markus Hofmeyr.

A joint investigation by both SANParks and state veterinarians on various options of managing the situation such as increased monitoring of all other packs in the area and the possibility of targeted vaccination of adult wild dogs is underway. The disease has to date only affected one pack in the park.

“The long-term solution to the problem is frequent vaccination of domestic dogs around conservation areas and we advise the public especially those in local communities bordering the park to stick to routine vaccination of their domestic dogs as this assists us as well”, advised Hofmeyr.

Posters will be placed at strategic places inside the park, with contact details to report any African wild dog sightings, so that guests can also assist management with the monitoring of the health status of wild dogs in the KNP.

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