Veterinary Record 145:362-365 doi:10.1136/vr.145.13.362
  • Papers & Articles

Aujeszky's disease in captive bears

  1. D. C. Taylor, BVMS,FRCVS3
  1. 1 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  2. 2 Calle Badajoz 19, 28023 Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3 International Zoo Veterinary Group, Keighley Business Centre, South Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire BD21 lAG


Five of eight bears died during an outbreak of Aujeszky's disease in a travelling circus in the north of Spain. The bears had been fed on a diet which indcluded raw pigs' heads. One of three Himalayan bears and a Kodiak bear died acutely with signs of the disease. One of four polar bears died acutely without signs, another died with signs of Aujeszky's disease while it was being treated, and a third died with enteritis and disseminated intestinal coagulation some time later wihout showing signs of the disease. A fourth polar bear recovered from the same gastrointestinal problem without showing signs of the disease. Although one of the two surviving Himalayan bears showed some signs referrable to Aujeszky's disease, the results of tests for neutralising antibodies were negative. Two of the polar bears, the Himalayan bear and the Kodiak bear were examined postnortem and three of them were examined histologically. No lesions referable to Aujeszky's disease were found. The tissues from one female polar bear were examined and shown to be positive for Aujeszky's disease virus by virus isolation, polymerase chain reaction, electron micoscopy and fluorescent antibody tests. The DNA of the isolate was shown to be similar to that of the strains of the virus drculating in pigs in northern Spain some years earlier.

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