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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

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Domestic dogs are common amongst communities in sub-Saharan Africa and may serve as important reservoirs for infectious agents that may cause diseases in wildlife. Two agents of concern are canine parvovirus (CPV) and canine distemper virus (CDV), which may infect and cause disease in large carnivore species such as African wild dogs and African lions, respectively. The impact of domestic dogs and their diseases on wildlife conservation is increasing in Zimbabwe, necessitating thorough assessment and implementation of control measures. In this study, domestic dogs in north-western Zimbabwe were evaluated for antibodies to CDV, CPV, and canine adenovirus (CAV). These dogs were communal and had no vaccination history. Two hundred and twenty-five blood samples were collected and tested using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibodies to CPV, CDV, and CAV. Of these dogs, 75 (34%) had detectable antibodies to CDV, whilst 191 (84%) had antibodies to CPV. Antibodies to canine adenovirus were present in 28 (13%) dogs. Canine parvovirus had high prevalence in all six geographic areas tested. These results indicate that CPV is circulating widely amongst domestic dogs in the region. In addition, CDV is present at high levels. Both pathogens can infect wildlife species. Efforts for conservation of large carnivores in Zimbabwe must address the role of domestic dogs in disease transmission.

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