According to a UPI release, veterinarians in China are utilizing antiviral medicines in an attempt to prevent the deadly canine distemper virus from killing a 5-year-old female panda bear named Feng Feng. She was diagnosed with the virus late last month.
Since then, the panda has developed more medical problems including serious damage to his heart, kidney, liver and lungs. As this goes to press, Feng Feng yet lives.
The virus has already taken the lives of two other pandas—Cheng Cheng and Da Bao—despite the best efforts of the country’s veterinarians more than a month ago. On staff experts at the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Research Center have been attempting to contain the virus which reportedly “spreads rapidly” among panda bears.
Wang Chengdong of the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province told the press: “Canine distemper is a fatal disease for pandas, with the death rate as high as 80 percent.”
Sources at CNN report that researcher Jin Yipeng said: “There’s actually no medicine of special efficacy in an antiviral therapy. For an infection what we need to do most is to win time for the panda’s immunity system to recover to a level strong enough to resist the virus.”
China has and continues to contribute considerable resources to prevent the endangered giant pandas. Their efforts have gone on for decades partially because the species is considered to be a national treasure.
The World Wildlife Fund states there are only 1,600 giant pandas still living in the wild. There were 92 pandas in captivity worldwide in 1989. At last count, there are now at least 380.
A source in the Chinese state media stated that the affected panda reserve has shipped out all 21 of its healthy pandas. Additionally, panda breeding locations in the Sichuan Province set into effect specific emergency measures in hopes of curtailing the virus. Zhou Qiang told CNN: “We used to disinfect panda houses twice and three times a week, and for the enclosure, once a week, and now we’ve made the sterilization once a day.”
Deadly Virus Kills Two Pandas