Monday, January 11, 2016

What of canine distemper in coyotes?

Photos by Dave Kemp
Coyote distemper not a problem in GTA
A day or so after writing my blog on raccoon distemper in the King area, I received the two exceptional photos of British Columbia coyotes from my west-coast friend and photographer, Dave Kemp.   One of my first thoughts was about the incidence of canine distemper in BC, as well as in Ontario.   There seems to be no problem in either province.   As far as Ontario is concerned, here's an excerpt of what Trent University professor Brent Patterson, who has been tracking local coyotes for the Ministry of Natural Resources, had to say in a June, 2015, response to a Friends of Sam Smith Park question.   "Depending on the year, > 70-80 % of the coyotes and wolves we have tested for exposure to Canine distemper have tested seropositive indicating some exposure to the virus.   Interestingly, despite high seroprevelance to distemper, and canine parvovirus, incidences of clinic disease are very rare among coyotes and wolves in southern and central Ontario for both diseases.   We suspect that a high rate of low-level exposure results in most of our coyotes and wolves developing a sufficient immune response so as to prevent them from contracting clinical disease.   In essence they become vaccinated through repeated low grade exposures  when they're young.   In many cases, these initial exposures likely occur while they're still nursing and thus protected by their mothers' antibodies.   So the short answer is that despite frequent exposure we don't expect canine distemper to be problematic for most coyotes in the GTA.   They should be able to safely eat all the raccoons they want".

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

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