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    Virus infection claims three jackals

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Raising serious questions over the safety of the animals in the City Zoo, three jackals died after they were infected with canine distemper virus. The virus infection is likely to be fatal for the jackals in the zoo. The condition of one is said to be serious, while the remaining four have also been confirmed with the virus infection. The survival chances of the animals infected with the virus is so rare that the zoo authorities are trying hard to check its spread to other animals.The veterinarian of the Zoo, Dr Jacob Alexander, who is also a pathologist, said the virus infection was confirmed weeks ago and disinfection methods were taken.“Canine distemper virus is commonly found in stray dogs. All the eight jackals were found to have been infected with the virus. Three died. Of the remaining five, the condition of one is serious. The condition of the other four is normal, but survival of virus-infected animals is usually rare,” he said.The virus infection was confirmed in the test conducted at the Chief Disease Investigation Laboratory in Palode. Zoo authorities are exploring all possible ways to check the spread of the virus to other animals. The infected animals have been screened. The zoo workers, who take care of the infected animals, are not allowed to enter other animal cages. The infected animals are given Hyperimmune immunoglobulins, vitamin supplementation etc. Sterilized materials are used for the animals. Canine distemper virus is commonly found in stray dogs. So, the animals were not vaccinated. The virus might have spread through rodents, Dr Jacob said. Two of the three dead were 14 years old and were suffering from heart-related ailments. Many unnatural deaths were reported from the zoo in the past several months. “The virus, if it spreads to other animals, might prove dangerous. There are serious doubts over whether the unnatural deaths that occurred in the zoo in the past too were due to the virus infection,” Dr Jacob said.