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Canine distemper

Canine distemper virus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Paramyxoviridae
Genus: Morbillivirus
Species: Canine distemper virus

Canine distemper is a viral disease affecting animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Procyonidae, Pinnipedia and possibly Felidae (though not domestic cats; feline distemper or panleukopenia is a virus exclusive to cats). It is most commonly associated with domestic animals such as dogs, although ferrets are also vaccinated for it.

Additional recommended knowledge



The origin of the word distemper is from the Middle English distemperen, meaning to upset the balance of the humors, which is from the Old French destemprer, meaning to disturb, which is from the Vulgar Latin distemperare: Latin dis- and Latin temperare, meaning to not mix properly.[1]


  Dogs from four months to four years old are particularly susceptible. Canine distemper virus (CDV) spreads through the air and through contact with infected bodily fluids, including food and water contaminated with these fluids.[2] The time between infection and disease is 14 to 18 days, although there can be a fever from three to six days postinfection.[3]

Canine distemper virus has a tropism for lymphoid, epithelial, and nervous tissues. Therefore, the typical pathologic features of canine distemper include lymphoid depletion (causing immunosuppression and leading to secondary infections), interstitial pneumonia, encephalitis with demyelination, and hyperkeratosis of foot pads . Histologic examination reveals intranuclear and intracytoplasmic eosinophilic inclusion bodies in numerous tissues.



The above symptoms, especially fever, respiratory signs, neurological signs, and thickened footpads found in unvaccinated dogs strongly indicate canine distemper. Finding the virus by various methods in the dog's conjunctival cells gives a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment and prevention

There is no specific treatment for canine distemper. The dog should be treated by a veterinarian, usually with antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections, intravenous fluids, and nutritional supplements. The prognosis is poor.

There exist a number of vaccines against canine distemper for dogs and domestic ferrets, which in many jurisdictions are mandatory for pets. The type of vaccine should be approved for the type of animal being inoculated, or else the animal could actually contract the disease from the vaccine. Animals should be quarantined if infected. The virus is destroyed in the environment by routine cleaning with disinfectants, detergents, or drying. It does not survive in the environment for more than a few hours at room temperature (20-25 °C), but can survive for a few weeks at temperatures slightly above freezing.[5]


  1. ^ distemper. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. (2000). Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
  2. ^ Carter, G.R.; Flores, E.F.; Wise, D.J. (2006). Paramyxoviridae. A Concise Review of Veterinary Virology. Retrieved on 2006-06-24.
  3. ^ a b Appel, M.J.G.; Summers, B.A. (1999). Canine Distemper: Current Status. Recent Advances in Canine Infectious Diseases. Retrieved on 2006-06-24.
  4. ^ Ettinger, Stephen J.;Feldman, Edward C. (1995). Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 4th ed., W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 0-7216-6795-3. 
  5. ^ Information sheet: Canine distemper virus. UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Canine_distemper". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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