Gujarat starts vaccination of Gir lions against deadly CDV virus

The Gujarat forest department on Sunday started vaccination of lions in the Gir sanctuary to protect them from a deadly virus blamed for the death of some of the big cats in their last abode.

As many as 23 lions have died in Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary in less than a month.

What is Canine Distemper Virus?

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a viral disease that infects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs who have not been vaccinated for Canine Distemper are the most at-risk. While the disease can also be contracted when improperly vaccinated or when a dog has a high susceptibility to bacterial infection, these cases are rare.

CDV can be spread through direct contact (licking, breathing air, etc.) or indirect contact (bedding, toys, food bowls, etc.), though it cannot live on surfaces for very long. Inhaling the virus is the primary method of exposure. There is no known cure for CDV.

What’s the issue?

The magnificent Asiatic lion is under threat. Twenty-three lions have died in as many days in the eastern part of Gujarat’s Gir sanctuary. This case is more worrisome as the big cat population in Gujarat is the last of the Asiatic lions in the wild.

The Gir sanctuary falls under the Junagadh district forest department’s jurisdiction.

A senior government official in Gandhinagar said only those lions which are in the forest department’s captivity are being vaccinated at present.

Following the death of big cats, the forest department had captured 36 lions and shifted them to Jashadhar and Jamwala rescue centers in the Gir forest as a precautionary measure.

According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in the Gir sanctuary stood at 523.

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