Canine parvovirus and distemper virus in Rocky Mtn wolves

Prevalence of antibodies to canine parvovirus and distemper virus in wolves in the Canadian Rocky Mountains


Brynn Nelson, Mark Hebblewhite, Vanessa Ezenwa, Todd Shury, Evelyn H. Merrill, Paul C. Paquet, Fiona Schmiegelow, Dale Seip, Geoff Skinner, and Nathan Webb


Nelson, B.,  M. Hebblewhite, V. Ezenwa, T. Shury, E. H. Merrill, P.C. Paquet, F. Schmiegelow, D. Seip, G. Skinner and N.Webb. 2012. Prevalence of antibodies to Canine Parvovirus and Distemper virus in wolves in the Canadian Rocky Mtns. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, Vol. 48, No. 1

Download the parer   Nelson et al 2012 Canadian Rockies Wolf Serology


Wild carnivores are often exposed to diseases via contact with peridomestic host species that travel through the wildland-urban interfaces. To determine the antibody prevalences and relationships to human activity for two common canid pathogens, we sampled 99 wolves(Canis lupus) from 2000 to 2008 for antibodies to canine parvovirus (CPV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) in Banff and Jasper National Parks and surrounding areas of the Canadian Rockies.

This population was the source for wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies of the US. Of 99 wolves sampled, 94 had detectable antibody to CPV (95%), 24 were antibody-positive for CDV (24%), and 24 had antibodies to both pathogens (24%). We tested whether antibody prevalences for CPV and CDV were higher closer to human activity (roads, town sites, First Nation reserves)and as a function of sex and age class. Wolves $2 yr old were more likely to be have antibodies to

CPV. For CDV, male wolves, wolves $2 yr, and those closer to First Nation reserves were more likely to have antibodies. Overall, however, we found minimal support for human influence on antibody prevalence for CDV and CPV. The similarity between our antibody prevalence results and results from recent studies in Yellowstone National Park suggests that at least in the case of CDV, and perhaps CPV, these could be important pathogens with potential effects on wolf populations.

Key words: Banff National Park, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, Canis lupus, carnivore, Jasper National Park, wolf.

Author affiliations

Brynn Nelson,1 Mark Hebblewhite,1,12 Vanessa Ezenwa,2,11 Todd Shury,3 Evelyn H. Merrill,4 Paul C. Paquet,5,6  Fiona Schmiegelow,7 Dale Seip,8 Geoff Skinner,9 and Nathan Webb10

1 Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula,Montana 59812, USA

2 Wildlife Biology Program, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA

3 Department of Veterinary Pathology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B4, Canada

4 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada

5 Raincoast Conservation Foundation, PO Box 86, Denny Island, British Columbia V0T 1B0, Canada

6 Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada

7 Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada

8 British Columbia Ministry of Forests, 1011 4th Ave., Prince George, British Columbia V2L3H9, Canada

9 PO Box 10, Parks Canada, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta T1K 1M0, Canada

10 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada

11 Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

12 Corresponding author (email: mark [dot] hebblewhite [at] umontana [dot] edu)

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.