Canine diseases can have an impact on both human health and domestic and wild animals. Two major pathogens, rabies and canine distemper virus (CDV), are of principle concern for the pastoralist Maasai community adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The communities living in the Trans Mara District adjacent to the Mara Triangle keep an estimated 10,000 dogs for livestock herding and household protection. These dogs are in close contact with both humans and wild predators, and thus increase the threat of desease transmission to both populations.
Rabies is a complex and nearly always fatal disease of all warm-blooded animals. Frequent and random cases involving rabid dog attacks on both humans and livestock used to be reported regularly on the escarpment, especially among individuals aged under 15, before the vaccinations took place.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) is capable of affecting both domestic dogs and wild carnivores, such as lion, jackal, hyena cheetah, wild dog and bat-eared fox. In 1994, a outbreak of a mutated strain of CDV killed more than 1,000 lions in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Subsequent research in the Serengeti showed that CDV in the wild carnivores was maintained solely by the domestic dog infections around the Park.
The only way we can control the outbreak of canine distemper in domestic dogs and to avoid the spread of disease to wild carnivores is through the preventive vaccination of healthy populations. Mara Conservancy has been vaccinating domestic dogs and cats in the Trans Mara District since 2007 as part of a community conservation project that protects the health of wildlife, domestic animals and people living near the Mara Triangle.
To help continue this invaluable project, please donate to Mara Conservancy
This website describes Canine Distemper Virus in further detail.
This is an article written by the veterinarian who has carried out a ring vaccination of domestic dogs surrounding Serengeti to control the disease outbreak in lions.