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Canine distemper in rare Amur tigers poses "significant risk to survival"

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Endangered Amur tigers (also called Siberian tigers) face challenges from poaching, decimation of their prey base, and habitat fragmentation, but a disease from domestic dogs may be the straw that broke the tiger's back, according to the authors of a study in mBio this week. A team of scientists from the US and Russia show that canine distemper virus (CDV) has infected and caused fatal neurological disease in members of this critically endangered species. CDV has been known to infect Bengal tigers in the wild and tigers in captivity, but until now it has not been seen in Amur tigers, the species roams Russia's snowy eastern edge. In the mBio study, the authors find that CDV has been responsible for the deaths of at least 5 Amur tigers since 2009. Amur tigers currently number fewer than 500 in the wild.

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