canine distemper canine distemper

Canine Distemper

(Canine Distemper); It is a contagious, very difficult to treat and often fatal multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Distemper is caused by the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV).

Distemper in dogs occurs worldwide. It is primarily the leading cause of death in unvaccinated puppies. Widespread vaccination programs have greatly reduced the incidence. CDV occurs among domestic dogs and many other carnivores, including raccoons, skunks, and foxes. CDV is quite common in the wild. The development of a vaccine in the early 1960s led to a dramatic reduction in the number of infected domestic dogs. It now tends to occur only as sporadic outbreaks. Young kittens aged 3 to 6 months are most susceptible to infection and disease and are more likely to die than infected adults. Non-immunized adult dogs are also highly susceptible to infection and disease. Immunity
Dogs without immunity are at greater risk of canine distemper when they come into contact with other non-immune dogs and wild camomiles.


Canine distemper disease has for many years been one of the most important and highly contagious viral diseases of dogs and the most feared. The virus targets several of the various organ systems in the animal’s body simultaneously. Canine distemper virus, an RNA virus; It belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family and the Morbillivirus genus. The disease is related to the virus that causes diseases such as rinderpest in ungulates such as cattle and measles in humans. Dogs of all ages are affected by the disease, but puppies are more affected. This is most likely due to immunity acquired in adults from vaccination or natural exposure to the virus. In addition to the Mustelidae family, cats, ferrets, mink, weasels, skunks, panda and civet are other animals susceptible to Canine distemper virus. It is believed that this virus is responsible for a number of deaths of African lions in recent years. The disease process for young dogs is difficult and can cause very variable findings. In some dogs, only a temporary fever, perhaps a loss of appetite, as well as mild depression may be the onset of the illness. Other dogs that are systemically affected by the disease develop urinating and tearing, cough, fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. While dogs may show some of these signs, they are not expected to have all the signs of the disease. Severe infections that go undiagnosed due to asymptomatic infection usually result in death. The mortality rate of canine distemper is always considered to be high.


distemperDepending on the tissue or organ where the causative agent is located, its clinical symptoms occur in different forms.

acute form: The incubation period is usually 14-18 days. After dogs ingest the agent, the first clinical symptoms of the disease appear within 4-7 days with a transient fever (40-41 °C) Leukopenia. The fever returns to normal after 7-14 days. With the formation of conjunctivitis and rhinitis, a rise in body temperature is determined again. In this form, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, weakening are usually observed. In addition, an increase in the sedimentation rate is observed in the blood. Encephalitis form: The symptoms of this form take different forms.

acute encephalitis ; Involuntary tremor, weakness, groaning, spinning, hyperesthesia, fear, convulsions, ataxia, incoordination and blindness are the most prominent symptoms of acute encephalitis. Neurological symptoms may appear weeks or even months later. Subacute encephalitis; The clinical findings observed in this form are similar to acute encephalitis. The most characteristic symptom is myoclo-nus or flexor spasm. Sometimes, symptoms in the acute form may not be seen. The most common cause of convulsions observed in dogs younger than 6 months is subacute encephalitis. In dogs that survive the disease, flexor spasm, visual and hearing impairments are permanent.

Chronic encephalitis;There are two forms of this form, which usually occurs in adult dogs.

Multifocal encephalitis: It is mostly seen in dogs aged 4-8 years. The disease usually progresses slowly and occurs over a year. Clinical symptoms include pelvic joint weakness, incoordination, bilateral or unidirectional nodding, nystagmus, facial paralysis, and temporal muscle tics without myoclonus. Affected dogs may develop paralysis. But mental activity is welcome.

Elderly dog ​​encephalitis: This form, which is very rare, is usually seen in dogs over the age of six. Visual impairment is the first clinical symptom. As the disease progresses, dogs may develop mental impairment, depression, rotational movements and tics in the head muscles. Patients cannot recognize their owners and are unresponsive to external stimuli.

Protection: Preventing infection is the best way to deal with distemper. Adequate vaccination is necessary in puppies. Veterinarians tend to start vaccinating puppies for this disease at around 6 weeks of age, and even at 12 or 16 weeks, at intervals of 3-4 weeks. Vaccination is repeated due to the interaction between the vaccine and antibodies passed from mother to offspring. These antibodies protect six-week-old puppies by approximately 75%, while those 9-week-olds protect at a level of 25%. Antibodies protect very few puppies up to 12 weeks of age. Initial vaccination is therefore an attempt to treat 25% of susceptible puppies, and subsequent vaccinations ultimately protect almost all puppies. Some strains of the distemper vaccine provide short-term immunity, while other strains provide nearly lifelong immunity when repeated one year after the first series. In some puppies, symptoms of distemper develop following vaccination, even in the absence of disease. These puppies have encephalitis. This can be lethal, although most puppies will likely survive. Canine distemper virus spreads from all bodily secretions of infected animals. Dogs can spread the virus for several weeks during illness and subsequent recovery. The virus is not stable in an environment, especially when it stays for more than a few weeks. It is particularly sensitive to disinfectants and quaternary ammonium compounds. The incidence of distemper infections is much lower than in the past. Good vaccination practices are certainly a big part of the reduction in cases. The vigilance of veterinarians around the world still regarding the current and ongoing disease and the vigilance of dog owners is necessary to prevent the resurgence of this deadly disease.

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