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Distemper: canine distemper virus

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Posted on May 27 2018

Canine distemper virus

For many years, canine distemper virus was the most feared of the viral diseases that affect dogs. Parvovirus may have overtaken in this regard, but it is still a deadly virus that kills dogs and other members of the canine family. He is also infectious about ferrets, mink, weasels and their relatives among the mustelid family, as well as raccoons, pandas and other members of the Procyonidae family. Recently it is believed that it is the culprit of the death of a number of African lions.



Canine distemper virus is an RNA virus of the morbillivirus family. In humans, measles is caused by a member of this family of viruses. Distemper virus is more likely to affect puppies of older dogs. This is probably due to immunity acquired through vaccination with canine distemper virus or exposure to the virus naturally, which leads to immunity. It can affect dogs of any age, however. It makes the clinical signs very variable, which makes it discarded in a young sick dog a difficult process. In some dogs transient fever, perhaps accompanied by a lack of appetite or mild depression may be the only sign of onset of distemper. Other dogs are affected by a systemic disease with nasal and ocular discharges, cough, fever, depression, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. It is not uncommon for dogs to have some but not all signs associated with this disease.

Since inapparent infections are often not diagnosed and serious infections are often present in dogs that die from the distemper virus, the mortality rate of canine distemper was always thought to be very high. Over time, it was recognized that a number of dogs survived the initial infection only to develop neurological signs from one to a few weeks after infection. Convulsions, changes in behavior, walking in circles and other outpatient problems commonly develop. Many dogs that develop neurological signs develop rhythmic movements or "tics". These are known as Korea. Sometimes affected dogs appear to be chewing gum due to the equilibrium contractions of the muscles of the head. Dogs that survive both the initial infection and subsequent neurological disease may develop retinal damage, cornea or extreme discoloration of the skin of the nose or foot pads. Infection with the distemper virus can be difficult to diagnose with certainty.

It is not uncommon for puppies with clinical signs to have a recent vaccination for the virus. This makes it difficult to judge infection by antibody titers in many cases. There is a latency period from the time the virus enters the body of a dog until clinical signs appear for approximately 10 to 14 days which means that already infected puppies can be vaccinated before the clinical signs appear. Vaccination is not likely to be effective in preventing the disease when it is administered after the infection occurs.

Sometimes, the virus can be identified in infected tissues, using immunofluorescence techniques. This works on white blood cells several days after infection and on the conjunctiva (the pink part of the eye area) swabs until 21 days after infection. Inclusion cysts can be seen in conjunctival scrapings as well. Values ​​of general blood chemistry and blood cell counts are usually quite uninformative when distemper is present. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) taps may indicate antibodies against the distemper virus and increase in protein. X-rays may show signs of pneumonia that are typical of viral infection, but not definitive for the distemper virus alone. In many cases the course of the disease, finally,

At present there is no specific treatment to kill the distemper virus. Supportive measures and control of neurological signs such as seizures can result in a reasonable recovery of this infection. This may be a long-term project, however.

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