Multiple-host pathogens in domestic hunting dogs in Nicaragua's Bosawás Biosphere Reserve

Christine V. Fiorello, Mary H. Straub, Laura M. Schwartz, James Liu, Amanda Campbell, Alexa K. Kownacki, Janet E Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Nicaragua's Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is a vast forested area inhabited largely by indigenous Mayangna and Miskitu people. Most Bosawás residents rely on subsistence hunting and swidden agriculture, and hunting dogs are important for finding and securing wild game. We investigated the health of hunting dogs in three communities differing in location, size, and economy. Dogs in all communities were nutritionally compromised and experienced a heavy burden of disease. Seroprevalence of canine distemper, canine parvovirus, Rickettsia rickettsii, and Leptospira spp. exceeded 50% of dogs. At least one dog was actively shedding leptospires in urine, and many dogs were anemic and/or dehydrated. These dogs interact with wildlife in the forest and humans and domestic livestock in the communities, and may therefore serve as sources of zoonotic and wildlife diseases. Bosawás represents one of the largest intact tracts of habitat for jaguars (Panthera onca) in Central America, and given that these communities are located within the forest, jaguars may be at risk from disease spillover from hunting dogs. Dog owners reported that four of 49 dogs had been attacked and killed by jaguars in the past year, and that retaliatory killing of jaguars was sometimes practiced. Disease spillover from dogs to wildlife could occur both in the course of dogs’ hunting activities as well as during jaguar attacks. A better understanding of dog depredation by jaguars, pathogen exposure in jaguars, and a management strategy for the hunting dog population, are urgently needed to mitigate these dual threats to jaguars, improve the lives of hunting dogs, and safeguard the health of their owners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Canine distemper virus
  • Disease spillover
  • Dog health
  • Hunting dogs
  • Jaguars
  • Nicaragua

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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    Fiorello, C. V., Straub, M. H., Schwartz, L. M., Liu, J., Campbell, A., Kownacki, A. K., & Foley, J. E. (2017). Multiple-host pathogens in domestic hunting dogs in Nicaragua's Bosawás Biosphere Reserve. Acta Tropica, 167, 183-190.