“We report an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) infection among endangered giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Five of six CDV infected giant pandas died. The surviving giant panda was previously vaccinated against CDV. Genomic sequencing of CDV isolated from one of the infected pandas (giant panda/SX/2014) suggests it belongs to the Asia-1 cluster. The hemagglutinin protein of the isolated virus and virus sequenced from lung samples originating from deceased giant pandas all possessed the substitutions V26M, T213A, K281R, S300N, P340Q, and Y549H. The presence of the Y549H substitution is notable as it is found at the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM) receptor-binding site and has been implicated in the emergence of highly pathogenic CDV and host switching. These findings demonstrate that giant pandas are susceptible to CDV and suggest that surveillance and vaccination among all captive giant pandas are warranted to support conservation efforts for this endangered species.”

Source: Fatal canine distemper virus infection of giant pandas in China : Scientific Reports