Serosurvey of infectious disease agents of carnivores in captive red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) in China.
The future of the endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens) depends in part on the development of protective measures against infectious diseases. The present study is a first step toward improved understanding of infectious diseases in the species' home regions. Serum samples obtained from 73 red pandas in 10 captive facilities in southwest, east, and northeast China from October to December 2004 were tested for antibodies against nine common infectious pathogens of carnivores. Antibody titers against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine parvovirus (CPV), and canine adenovirus (CAV) in the three facilities in which red pandas were vaccinated were highly variable. The CAV titer in one vaccinated red panda was high enough to suggest infection with the field virus following vaccination. Together with anecdotal reports of vaccine-associated morbidity and mortality, our results suggest that the Chinese vaccine is not suitable for this species. In the seven unvaccinated groups, CDV titers were low and occurred in 20-100% of the animals; antibody titers against CPV were found in seven of eight areas. Only one of 61 and two of 61 unvaccinated red pandas had CAV and canine coronavirus titers, respectively, and these titers were all low. Positive titers to Toxoplasma gondii were found in four locations (33-94% seropositive); the titers in 52% of seropositive individuals were of a magnitude consistent with active disease in other species (1:1,024 to ≥1:4,096). One red panda in each of three locations was seropositive for Neospora caninum. Antibodies against canine herpesvirus and Brucella canis were not detected in any of the samples. Only one of the 73 red pandas had a weak positive influenza A titer. The results of this study emphasize the need for research on and protection against infectious diseases of red pandas and other endangered species in China.