NEW YORK, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Russian and U.S. veterinarians say they'll embark on a collaborative study to solve mysterious wild tiger deaths that may be due to distemper.
The viral disease that affects domestic dogs and other species may be an increasing threat to the world's Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, a release by the Wildlife Conservation Society said Friday.
Working at WCS's Wildlife Health Center at the Bronx Zoo, Russian and WCS pathologists used DNA sequencing to confirm the infection in two wild Siberian tigers from the Russian Far East, offering genetic proof distemper is affecting wild tigers.
In 2010 a tigress named "Galia," studied by researchers for eight years in the Russian Far East, walked into a village displaying abnormal neurological signs and had to be shot by police after several unsuccessful attempts to capture her.
A similar event occurred in 2003, and samples from the two tigers were used in the WCS analysis.
"With all the threats facing Siberian tigers from poaching and habitat loss, relatively little research has been done on diseases that may afflict tigers," Dale Miquelle, WCS Director of Russia Programs, said.