Serosurvey of ex situ giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) in China with implications for species conservation

I. Kati Loeffler, Jo Gayle Howard, Richard J. Montali, Lee Ann Hayek, Edward Dubovi, Zhihe Zhang, Qigui Yan, Wanzhu Guo, David E. Wildt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conservation strategies for the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) include the development of a self-sustaining ex situ population. This study examined the potential significance of infectious pathogens in giant pandas ex situ. Serologic antibody titers against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine parvovirus (CPV), canine adenovirus (CAV), canine coronavirus (CCV), canine herpesvirus, canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV), Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, and Leptospira interrogans were measured in 44 samples taken from 19 giant pandas between 1998 and 2003 at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan, China. Seroassays also included samples obtained in 2003 from eight red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) housed at the same institution. All individuals had been vaccinated with a Chinese canine vaccine that included modified live CDV, CPV, CAV, CCV, and CPIV. Positive antibody titers were found only against CDV, CPV, and T. gondii. Sera were negative for antibodies against the other six pathogens. Results indicate that the quality of the vaccine may not be reliable and that it should not be considered protective or safe in giant pandas and red pandas. Positive antibody titers against T. gondii were found in seven of the 19 giant pandas. The clinical, subclinical, or epidemiologic significance of infection with these pathogens via natural exposure or from modified live vaccines in giant pandas is unknown. Research in this area is imperative to sustaining a viable population of giant pandas and other endangered species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-566
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • China
  • Giant panda
  • Infectious disease
  • Red panda
  • Serology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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