Importance of canine distemper virus (cdv) infection in free-ranging iberian lynxes (lynx pardinus).
Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a morbillivirus that is the etiological agent of one of the most important viral diseases affecting canids and an expanding range of other carnivores. Using real-time RT-PCR, CDV RNA was detected in organs of an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) found dead in the Doñana National Park, Southwestern Andalusia, Spain. This finding may be of great importance for the conservation of the species; at present the Iberian lynx is the most critically endangered wild felid. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the significance of CDV for the Iberian lynx population. High viral loads were evident in the dead lynx, suggesting an etiological involvement of CDV in its death. When carnivores from the same region were analyzed by CDV RT-PCR, a stone marten (Martes foina) was positive. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated high identity of the two detected CDVs and a close relationship to the European dog lineage of CDV. Antibodies to CDV were detected in 14.8% of 88 tested free-ranging Iberian lynxes. The sample seroprevalence was significantly higher in lynxes from the Doñana Natural Space (22.9%) than Sierra Morena (5%). The stone marten and a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) also tested seropositive. In conclusion, CDV is present in the Iberian lynx population, especially in the Doñana region, with sporadic cases of disease. To reduce the infectious pressure of CDV on this endangered population, a mass dog vaccination should be considered.