Epidemiologic Investigation of Canine Distemper Virus in Domestic Dogs and Jaguars (Panthera onca) in the Surroundings of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Southern Mexico
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Sandra Ortiz1, MVZ; Gerardo Suzán1, MVZ, PhD; Sharon L. Deem2, DVM, PhD, DACZM, Gerardo Ceballos3, PhD

1Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, México; 2Institute for Conservation Medicine, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 3Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, México


The transmission of infectious diseases between domestic animals and wildlife is a conservation concern.1,3 Domestic dogs often act as reservoir species that can maintain infectious diseases in their populations and may transmit these to wildlife.2 The goals of this study were to examine the exposure to canine distemper virus (CDV) in domestic dogs and free-ranging jaguars (Pantera onca) near the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Southern Mexico and determine the risk factors associated with CDV seropositivity. We conducted a cross-sectional household questionnaire survey to obtain information on vaccination status and demographic data of dog populations in three villages surrounding Calakmul. We used a microneutralisation test to determine serum antibodies to CDV in 93 domestic dogs. Serum samples from 13 jaguars captured in the reserve in previous years will be tested at Cornell University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Ithaca, New York. Dog population sizes and levels of exposure to CDV varied between the villages with a high prevalence and large dog population size in the largest village, Caobas. More than 90% of all dogs sampled had never been vaccinated against CDV and opportunities for direct contact with wildlife were demonstrated due to dog hunting activities and predation of domestic animals. Jaguar CDV results will provide baseline information on disease exposure critical for monitoring the population health of this endangered felid. Our results demonstrate that domestic dogs may play an important role in CDV spillover to wild carnivores in the Calakmul region.


The authors thank the villages of Caobas, Narciso Mendoza and 20 de Noviembre and Mr. Francisco Zavala for their participation and support to perform this study.

Literature Cited

1.  Bronson E., L.H. Hemmons, S. Murray, E.J. Dubovi, and S.L. Deem. 2008. Serosurvey of pathogens in domestic dogs on the border of Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 39:28–36.

2.  Fiorello, C.V., J. N. Andrew, and S. L. Deem. 2006. Demography, hunting ecology, and pathogen exposure of domestic dogs in the Isoso of Bolivia. Cons. Biol. 20:762–771.

3.  Murray D. L., C. A. Kapke, J. F. Evermann, and T. K. Fuller. 1999. Infectious disease and the conservation of free-ranging large carnivores. Animal Cons. 2:241–254.


Speaker Information
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Sandra Ortiz, MVZ
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
México, DF, México

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