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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-26651

Thalwitzer, S; Wachter, B; Robert, N; Wibbelt, G; Müller, T; Lonzer, J; Meli, M L; Bay, G; Hofer, H; Lutz, H (2010). Seroprevalences to viral pathogens in free-ranging and captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) on Namibian farmland. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI, 17(2):232-238.

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Cheetah populations are diminishing rapidly in their natural habitat. One reason for their decline is thought to be a high susceptibility to (infectious) diseases because cheetahs in zoos suffer from high disease-induced mortality. Data on the health status of free-ranging cheetahs are scarce and little is known about their exposure and susceptibility to infectious diseases. We determined seroprevalence to nine key viruses (feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, feline parvovirus, feline corona virus, canine distemper virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, puma lentivirus, feline leukemia virus and rabies virus) in 68 free-ranging cheetahs on east-central Namibian farmland, 24 non-vaccinated Namibian captive cheetahs and several other wild carnivore species, and conducted necropsies of cheetahs and other wild carnivores. Eight of eleven other wild carnivores were sero-positive for at least one of the viruses, including the first record of an FIV-like infection in a wild felid west of the Kalahari, the caracal (Felis caracal). Seroprevalences of the free-ranging cheetahs were below 5% for all nine viruses, significantly lower than seroprevalences in non-vaccinated captive cheetahs and for five of seven viruses in free-ranging cheetahs from north-central Namibia previously studied (1). There was no clinical or pathological evidence for infectious diseases in living or dead cheetahs. The results suggest that - whilst free-ranging wild carnivores may be a source of pathogens -, the distribution of seroprevalences across studies mirrored local human population density and factors associated with human habitation, probably reflecting contact opportunities with (non-vaccinated) domestic and feral cats and dogs. They also suggest that Namibian cheetahs respond effectively to viral challenges, encouraging consistent and sustainable conservation efforts. 1. Munson, L., L. Marker, E. Dubovi, J. A. Spencer, J. F. Evermann, and S. J. O'Brien. 2004. J. Wildl. Dis. 40:23-31.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Deposited On:25 Jan 2010 18:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:42
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
Publisher DOI:10.1128/CVI.00345-09
PubMed ID:19955325

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