Acta Vet. Brno 2011, 80: 47-50

Canine distemper in Siberian tiger cubs from Zagreb ZOO: case report

Dean Konjević1, Ruža Sabočanec1, Željko Grabarević1, Andreas Zurbriggen2, Ingeborg Bata3, Ana Beck1, Andrea Gudan Kurilj1, Denis Cvitković1

1Veterinary Faculty, University of Zagreb, Croatia
2Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Switzerland
3Zagreb ZOO, Croatia

Canine distemper is a contagious, potentially lethal disease of mainly domestic and wild canids, but also of many other mammalian species including large felids. In February 2004, two Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) cubs at the age of six months died at the Zagreb ZOO. The animals were presented for necropsy with two days history of severe digestive disorders, characterized mainly by haemathemesis. Dissections revealed catarrhal to pseudomembranous gastroenteritis (depending on the animal) accompanied with haemorrhagic oedema of the lungs. Necrotic tonsillitis and disseminated depletion of the lymphocytes were the most prominent histological findings in both examined animals, while intranuclear and intracytoplasmatic inclusion bodies were found in the samples of the tongues and intestines. Representative portions of the livers, intestines, tonsils and lymph nodes were submitted for bacteriological and mycological analysis. The presence of Clostridium spp., Campylobacter coli and Escherichia coli was detected in gut samples, coli-like bacteria were found in samples of liver, tonsils and lymph nodes, while Candida sp. was found in the gut and pharynx samples. Toxicological analysis excluded anticoagulant and organophosphorous intoxication as the cause of death. Immunohistochemical analysis was positive for canine distemper virus. Based on all this, epizootiological, clinical and additional findings, canine distemper was recognized as the cause of the observed condition in these animals.


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