Conservation of Black-Footed Cats (Felis nigripes) and Prevalence of Infectious Diseases in Sympatric Carnivores in South Africa
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010

Nadine Lamberski1, DVM, DACZM; Beryl Wilson2, BTech; Alex Sliwa3, PhD; Jason Herrick4, PhD; Arne Lawrenz5,; Karen Terio6, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Edward J. Dubovi7, PhD

1Wild Animal Park, San Diego Zoo, Escondido, CA, USA; 2McGregor Museum, Kimberley, North Cape, South Africa; 3Cologne Zoo, Cologne, Germany; 4College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Urbana, IL, USA; 5Wuppertal Zoo, Wuppertal, Germany; 6University of Illinois, Maywood, IL, USA; 7College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Read the Spanish translation: Conservación de los Gatos De Patas Negras (Felis nigripes) y la Prevalencia de Enfermedades Infecciosas en Carnívoros Simpátricos en Sudáfrica


The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is a small (∼2 kg) felid with a limited range in southern Africa. This species is included on appendix 1 of CITES, is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is ranked as the most vulnerable of the sub-Saharan cat species by the Cat Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This project is part of a larger conservation initiative to better understand the ecology, genetics, health, and reproductive biology of the black-footed cat in southern Africa. From 2004–2009, the Black-footed Cat Working Group captured 18 free-living black-footed cats from two study sites. Six cats were recaptured and a total of 26 serum samples obtained. Serum (n=87) samples were also collected from small carnivores that share black-footed cat territory, prey base, and opportunities for disease exposure including 1 African wild cat, 3 domestic cats, 2 domestic dogs, 6 Cape foxes, 5 bat-eared foxes, 3 black-backed jackal, 7 aardwolves, and 34 yellow mongooses. Serologic evidence of exposure to viral pathogens that commonly infect canids and felids was low for all viruses except canine distemper virus (CDV). The species with the highest CDV seroprevalence was yellow mongoose which demonstrated a dramatic decrease in seroprevalence from 2005–2009. Attempts to identify canine distemper virus from biological specimens using molecular diagnostic techniques to determine if the virus was present in asymptomatic carriers are ongoing. This data should help to better understand the epidemiology of canine distemper virus and its potential impact on small carnivore populations.


Speaker Information
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Nadine Lamberski, DVM, DACZM
Wild Animal Park
San Diego Zoo
Escondido, CA, USA

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