Diseases impacting lion populations: Endemic Diseases

By ALERT
Last updated 7 Mar 2012

 

Endemic diseases impacting lion (Panthera leo) populations


Feline Herpesvirus (FeHV)

Feline herpesvirus 1 (FeHV - 1) has been reported in free-ranging wild felids in Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa [1-6].  FeHV – 1 permanently infects the host causing feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), a disease of the upper respiratory system.  It grows in the nasal, oral and conjunctival mucous membranes and intravaginal instillation of the virus has led to vaginitis and congenitally infected offspring [6].  In domestic cats the nasal discharge leads to the sense of smell becoming severely diminished, causing inappetence. Whilst loss of appetite is dangerous in all cats, it is especially so in the young.  Additionally, secondary bacterial infections can occur due to the damage caused to tissues [7]

FeHV is highly prevalent in all free-ranging lion populations tested so far (67% in Etosha National Park, 91% in Kruger NP and 99% or 100% in Serengeti NP, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara region and Central Kalahari region) [4, 8-10].  FeHV however is thought to be innocuous to survival or to reproductive success in infected lions, but high prevalence throughout different populations makes it difficult to compare such parameters among infected and uninfected hosts [8]. 


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is a significant cause of disease in domestic cats (FIVfca) producing AIDS-like pathology characterized by CD4 depletion, immune suppression and death [1-2].  Species-specific strains of FIV were demonstrated in non-domestic cat species [3-5]; however general opinion was that FIVple, widespread in African lions, was benign. [3, 6-7].

Recent studies, including the first to study the complete genome sequence of the provirus from some FIVple subtypes, have shown that infected lions exhibit declines in CD4+ subsets, reductions of the CD4+ / CD8+ ratio, reduction of CD8+βhigh cells and expansion of the CD8+βlow subset [8-12] parallel to observations with HIV infection, strongly suggesting an immunological cost of FIV infection to lions.  FIVple subtype E, recorded in populations from the Okavango Delta in Botswana, has been shown to be more similar to FIVfca than to FIVple subtype B indicating a possible pathogenesis similar to that seen in domestic cats including a possibly as yet un-sequenced strain for the env gene [8-9, 13].

The extent of recombination among the six known FIVple subtypes within free-ranging lions is not yet known, but studies of Serengeti lions (where up to 93% of adult lions are infected) have shown that 43% of individuals are multiply infected with FIVple subtypes A, B and C allowing opportunities for recombination and possible evolution of more virulent strains [14].  FIVple negative populations have been confirmed in Etosha NP [7] although it is possible that they are infected with an as yet un-sequenced subtype.

Read the next chapter of this article here


References for Feline Herpesvirus

[1] Munson L, Wack R, Duncan M, Montali RJ, Boon D, Stalis I, Crawshaw GJ, Cameron KN, Mortenson J, Citino S, Zuba J, Junge RE (2004) Chronic eosinophilic dermatitis associated with persistent feline herpes virus infection in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Veterinary Pathology 41: 170–176. (pdf)

[2] Ostrowski S, Van Vuuren M, Lenain DM, Durand A (2003) A serologic survey of wild felids from central west Saudi Arabia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39: 696–701. (pdf)

[3] Daniels MJ, Golder MC, Jarrett O, MacDonald DW (1999) Feline viruses in wildcats from Scotland. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 35: 121–124. (pdf)

[4] Hofmann-Lehmann R, Fehr D, Grob M, Elgizoli M, Packer C, Martenson JS, O’Brien SJ, Lutz H (1996) Prevalence of antibodies to feline parvovirus, calicivirus, herpesvirus, coronavirus, and immunodeficiency virus and of feline leukemia virus antigen and the interrelationship of these viral infections in free-ranging lions in east Africa, Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology 3: 554–562. (pdf)

[5] Paul-Murphy J, Work T, Hunter D, McFie E, Fjelline D (1994) Serologic survey and serum biochemical reference ranges of the free ranging mountain lion (Felis concolor) in California. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 30: 205–215. (pdf)

[6] Bittle JL, Peckham JC (1971) Genital infection induced by feline rhinotracheitis virus and effects on newborn kittens. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association 158 (supplement 2): 927– 928.

[7] Pedersen NC (1991) Diseases & Management in the Multiple Cat Environment. Goleta, CA: American Veterinary Publications. (book – purchase required)

[8] Packer C, Altizer S, Appel M, Brown E, Martenson J, O’Brien SJ, Roelke-Parker M, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Lutz H (1999) Viruses of the Serengeti: patterns of infection and mortality in African lions. Journal of Animal Ecology 68: 1161-1178  (pdf)

[9] Spencer JA, Morkel P (1993) Serological survey of sera from survey from lion in Etosha National Park. Southern African Journal of Wildlife Research 23: 60–61.

[10]  Ramsauer S, Bay G, Meli M, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Lutz H (2007) Seroprevalence of Selected Infectious Agents in a Free-Ranging, Low-Density Lion Population in the Central Kalahari Game Reserves in Botswana.  Clinical and Vaccine Immunology: 808–810 (pdf)

Further reading:

Feline Herpesvirus (pdf)
Gaskell R, Dawson S, Radford A, Thiry E (2007) Veterinary Research 38: 337-354


References for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

[1] Willett BJ, Flynn JN, Hosie MJ (1997) FIV infection of the domestic cat: an animal model for AIDS. Immunology Today 18: 182–189. (pdf – purchase required)

[2] Bendinelli M, Pistello M, Lombardi S, Poli A, Garzelli C, Matteucci D, Ceccherini-Nello L, Malvaldi G, Tozzini F (1995) Feline immunodeficiency virus: an interesting model for AIDS studies and an important cat pathogen. Clinical Microbiology Review 8: 87–112. (pdf)

[3] Carpenter MA, O'Brien SJ (1995) Coadaptation and immunodeficiency virus: lessons from the Felidae. Current Opinion in Genetic Development 5: 739–745. (pdf – purchase required)

[4] Brown EW, Yuhki N, Packer C, O’Brien SJ (1994) A lion lentivirus related to feline immunodeficiency virus: epidemiologic and phylogenetic aspects. Journal of Virology 68: 5953–5968. (pdf)

[5] Olmsted RA, Langley R, Roelke ME, Goeken RM, Adger-Johnson D, Goff JP, Albert JP, Packer C, Laurenson MK, Caro TM (1992) Worldwide Prevalence of Lentivirus Infection in Wild Feline Species - Epidemiologic and Phylogenetic Aspects. Journal of Virology 66: 6008–6018. (pdf)

[6] Packer C, Altizer S, Appel M, Brown E, Martenson J, O’Brien SJ, Roelke-Parker M, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Lutz H (1999) Viruses of the Serengeti: patterns of infection and mortality in African lions. Journal of Animal Ecology 68: 1161-1178  (pdf)

[7] Hofmann-Lehmann R, Fehr D, Grob M, Elgizoli M, Packer C, Martenson JS, O’Brien SJ, Lutz H (1996) Prevalence of antibodies to feline parvovirus, calicivirus, herpesvirus, coronavirus, and immunodeficiency virus and of feline leukemia virus antigen and the interrelationship of these viral infections in free-ranging lions in east Africa, Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology 3: 554–562. (pdf)

[8] Roelke ME, Brown MA, Troyer JL, Winterbach H, Winterbach C, Hemson G, Smith D, Johnson RC, Pecon-Slattery J, Roca AL, Alexander KA, Klein L, Martelli P, Krishnasamy K, O'Brien SJ (2009)  Pathological manifestations of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in wild African lions Virology 390: 1-12 (pdf)

[9] McEwan WA, McMonagle EL, Logan N, Serra RC, Kat P, VandeWoude S, Hosie MJ, Willett BJ (2008).  Genetically Divergent Strains of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus from the Domestic Cat (Felis catus) and the African Lion (Panthera leo) Share Usage of CD134 and CXCR4 as Entry Receptors  Journal of Virology 82 (21) 10953-10958  (pdf)

[10] Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J, Taylor S, Citino S, Brown E, Packer C, VandeWoude S, O’Brien SJ (2006)  T-Lymphocyte Profiles in FIV-Infected Wild Lions and Pumas Reveal CD4 Depletion. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 42 (2): 234-248  (pdf)

[11] Bull ME, Gebhard DG, Tompkins WA, Kennedy-Stoskopf S (2002) Polymorphic expression in the CD8alpha chain surface receptor of African lions (Panthera leo). Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 84(3–4): 181-189. (pdf – purchase required)

[12] Bull ME, Kennedy-Stoskopf S, Levine JF, Loomis M, Gebhard DG, Tompkins WA (2003) Evaluation of T lymphocytes in captive African lions (Panthera leo) infected with feline immunodeficiency virus. American Journal of Veterinary Research 64(10): 1293-1300. (pdf – purchase required)

[13] Pecon-Slattery J, McCracken CL, Troyer J, VandeWoude S, Roelke M, Sondgeroth K, Winterbach C, Winterbach H, O’Brien SJ (2008) Genomic organization, sequence divergence, and recombination of feline immunodeficiency virus from lions in the wild.  BMC Genomics 9: 66. (pdf)

[14] Troyer JL, Pecon-Slattery J, Roelke ME, Black L, Packer C, O'Brien SJ (2004) Patterns of feline immunodeficiency virus multiple infection and genome divergence in a free-ranging population of African lions. Journal of Virology 78(7): 3777-3791 (pdf)

Further reading:

The epidemiology of lion lentivirus infection among a population of free-ranging lions (Panthera leo) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa (pdf)
Adams H, van Vuuren M, Bosman A-M, Keet D, New J, Kennedy M (2009).  Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 80 (3): 151-156

The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics (pdf)
Antunes A, Troyer JL, Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J, Packer C, Winterbach C, Winterbach H, Hemson G, Frank L, Stander P, Siefert L, Driciru M, Funston PJ, Alexander KA, Prager KC, Mills G, Wildt D, Bush M, O’Brien SJ, Johnson WE (2008).  PLoS Genetics 4 (11): e1000251

Neurologic Disease in Captive Lions (Panthera leo) with low-titer lion lentivrius infection (pdf)
Brennan G, Podell MD, Wack R, Kraft S, Troyer JL, Bielefeldt-Ohmann H, VandeWoude S (2006) Journal of Clinical Microbiology 44 (12) 4345 – 4352

Seroprevalence of Selected Infectious Agents in a Free-Ranging, Low-Density Lion Population in the Central Kalahari Game Reserves in Botswana  (pdf).
Ramsauer S, Bay G, Meli M, Hofmann-Lehmann R, Lutz H (2007) Clinical and Vaccine Immunology: 808–810

Emerging Viruses in the Felidae: Shifting Paradigms (pdf)
O’Brien SJ, Troyer JL, Brown MA, Johnson WE, Antunes A, Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J (2012). Viruses 4: 236-257