Health - Canine Distemper
CDV occurs among domestic dogs and many other carnivores,
including raccoons, skunks, and foxes. CDV is fairly common in wildlife.
The development of a vaccine in the early 1960s led to a dramatic
reduction in the number of infected domestic dogs. It tends to occur now
only as sporadic outbreaks.
Young puppies between 3 and 6 months old are most susceptible to
infection and disease and are more likely to die than infected adults. Nonimmunized older dogs are also highly susceptible to infection and
disease. Nonimmunized dogs that have contact with other nonimmunized dogs
or with wild carnivores have a greater risk of developing canine
It is possible for humans to contract an asymptomatic (subclinical)
CDV infection. Anyone who’s been immunized against measles (a related
virus) is protected against CDV as well.
Macrophages (cells that ingest foreign disease-carrying
organisms, like viruses and bacteria) carry the inhaled virus to nearby
lymph nodes where it begins replicating (reproducing). It spreads
rapidly through the lymphatic tissue and infects all the lymphoid
organs within 2 to 5 days. By days six to nine, the virus spreads to the
blood (viremia). It then spreads to the surface epithelium (cell lining)
of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, and central nervous
systems, where it begins doing the damage that causes the symptoms.
Early symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and mild
eye inflammation that may only last a day or two. Symptoms become more
serious and noticeable as the disease progresses.
is fever (103ºF to 106ºF), which usually peaks 3 to 6 days after
infection. The fever often goes unnoticed and may peak again a few days
later. Dogs may experience eye and nose discharge, depression, and
anorexia. After the fever, symptoms vary considerably, depending on the
strain of the virus and the dog’s immunity.
Many dogs experience gastrointestinal and respiratory
symptoms, such as:
These symptoms are
often exacerbated by secondary bacterial infections. Dogs almost always
develop encephalomyelitis (an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord),
the symptoms of which are variable and progressive. Most dogs that die
from distemper, die from neurological complications such as the following:
Many dogs experience symptoms of the eye:
minor conditions that often become chronic, even in dogs that recover are:
In utero infection
of fetuses is rare, but can
happen. This can lead to spontaneous abortion, persistent infection in
newborn puppies, or the birth of normal looking puppies that rapidly
develop symptoms and die within 4 to 6 weeks.