Scientists are concerned that the canine distemper virus may be infecting the Sumatran tiger living throughout Indonesia.
According to the BBC, canine distemper is thought to be infecting tigers in Indonesia. The tigers are already an endangered species.
Canine distemper is is most commonly associated with domestic animals such as dogs and ferrets. The virus is a a close relative of the viral diseases measles and rinderpest.
Across different parts of the world the virus has made a leap from dogs to other animals. For example, the virus was responsible for the deaths of many lions in the Serengeti in the 1990s. It has now become a major threat to wildlife.
This spread of the virus us a concern to John Lewis, director of Wildlife Vets International: "If you wind the clock back about 30 or 40 years, it was a dog disease—it was a canine virus and only affected dogs. But in the intervening years, the virus has evolved and has changed its pattern of animals it can infect to include marine mammals (such as seals) and big cats."
Lewis has collated reports where tigers in Indonesia have been spotted behaving oddly and initial test results indicate that they are infected with the virus. Wildlife Vets International is calling for an urgent survey of tigers throughout Indonesia so that the extent of the problem can be examined.