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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Gir lions continue to be tested for Canine Distemper Virus symptoms

Officials said more than 100 samples of swabs from nose, eyes and rectum have been tested so far with about 25 turning out to be positive.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2018 07:23 IST
Samples collected from lions in Gujarat’s Gir Forest National Park continue to be tested for the symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), which has killed 23 lions there since September 20.
Samples collected from lions in Gujarat’s Gir Forest National Park continue to be tested for the symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), which has killed 23 lions there since September 20. (AFP File Photo)
         

Samples collected from lions in Gujarat’s Gir Forest National Park continue to be tested for the symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), which has killed 23 lions there since September 20.

Officials said more than 100 samples of swabs from nose, eyes and rectum have been tested so far with about 25 turning out to be positive. More samples are likely to be tested in coming days, they said, adding lions with symptoms being kept under observation.

“It is the forest department that has been primarily handling the situation there, and we are providing them with technical support in terms of testing the samples. We have been getting samples in small batches,” said Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, who heads the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, whose laboratory at National Institute of Virology in Pune is conducting these tests.

For the first time a complete genome of the CDV was recovered by the NIV. The sequence was compared with the available CDV sequences and it was found to be related to the East African strains, where the highly contagious and life-threatening viral infection is known to have wiped out 30% of the total population of lions in Serengeti forest areas.

“Our expertise lies in testing human samples but since we have been asked for technical support, we are testing these (lions’) samples, too.” said Dr Gangakhedkar.

The government has also issued an alert to all reserves to keep a close watch for symptoms

First Published: Oct 20, 2018 06:49 IST