Two giant pandas have died and two more are sick after contracting canine distemper virus at a breeding facility in Zhouzhi county, Shaanxi province.
The four female pandas were diagnosed as having the viral disease, which affects a variety of animals including dogs, primates and large cats, in early December, according to Xinhua. On December 9, eight-year-old panda Cheng Cheng succumbed to the illness, and on Sunday afternoon, another eight-year-old panda called Da Bao died from heart failure and lung edema as a result of the virus.
One of the two ill pandas is in critical condition, and four other pandas with fever-like symptoms have been quarantined until further diagnosis. The wildlife rescue, breeding and research center of Shaanxi previously housed 25 giant pandas, but the other healthy pandas have been sent off to other nature reserves.
Canine distemper is highly contagious and affects the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts as well as the spinal cord and brain. It can cause fever, vomiting, coughing and lethargy.
[Images via Sina]