Despite the crucial role of domestic dogs as reservoirs for zoonosis and some of the most threatening diseases for wild carnivores such as distemper and parvovirosis, little is known about the epidemiological features and the risk factors involved in pathogen exposure of dogs that live in human/wildlife interfaces and actually contacts wildlife. Through a cross-sectional serological approach and questionnaire survey, we assessed the prevalence along with individual and environment-associated risk factors for four important viral diseases of rural dogs living in households around six Atlantic Forest fragments in southeast Brazil.
Widespread exposure to canine parvovirus (97 %), canine distemper virus (15 %) and canine adenovirus (27 %) was detected, but none for canine coronavirus. Dogs from small private reserves were more exposed to parvovirus and canine distemper virus than those from larger state parks. Exposure was associated with dog sex and age, lack of health care and the number of people in the households. Remarkably, factors linked to free-ranging behaviour of dogs were associated with the exposure for all pathogens detected.
According to identified associations, reducing viral pathogen exposure in dogs will require inhibiting dog's movements and access to nearby forests and villages and improving veterinary assistance. Promoting dog vaccination and population control through sterilization around protected areas is also necessary. The study provides support for preventive management actions aimed to protect the health of rural dogs, and consequently of Atlantic Forest's wild carnivores.