Canine distemper virus (CDV) is an airborne type and highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal and can affects the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, optic nerves and central nervous systems.
Canine distemper is closely related to measles in human so if human has vaccine and immune to measles then they will also has immune to dog distemper. However there is a report that humans can possibly be infected with dog distemper disease but will show no signs or symptoms at all.
Large number of animal species and weasel-like animals such as lion, ferrets, foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, wild hogs, badgers, raccoons, pandas etc. can also develop this type of diseases. Dog distemper cannot affect or pass on to cat except other problems like skin irritations, mange, fleas, etc. Cat distemper is known as feline panleukopenia.
Puppies between 3-6 month of age are most susceptible to diseases infection and may suffer from more serious illness conditions such as inflammatory illness of the lung (pneumonia) and acute inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) when compare with older dogs. Around 15 percent of canine inflammatory central nervous system diseases are caused by canine distemper virus (CDV).
Nursing puppies has lower chance of CDV infection because a certain degree of immunity is passed down to puppies by colostrum-milk but this can only be done by giving colostrum-milk during the first 8-24 hours after birth.
Older dogs has little or no opportunity to become infected or exposed to the CDV virus because of the immunity build up but however there is a case that 7-8 years old dog has been infected with distemper.
Seasons has direct effects on the spread of dog distemper virus. Summer season and warm weather can force CDV to become dormantand lower their prevalence rate while CDV can be most virulent during early spring, fall and winter season.
Dog distemper incubation period ranges from 3-21 days in approximation and may be longer depend on other factors such as seasons, temperature etc.
Dog distemper symptoms
Early signs and symptoms of dog distemper
- loss of appetite (anorexia)
- mild eye inflammation (usually last two day)
- temperature rise to above 103 degree fahrenheit
- nasal discharge
- discharge from eye (conjunctivitis)
Dogs will have following symptoms when CDV affects theintestinal tract.
- loss of appetite
- suddenly weak
Dogs will have following symptoms when CDV affects the lungs and upper respiratory tract.
- green discharge from nostril
- discharge eye (conjunctivitis)
- cough and labored breathing (pneumonia)
- runny nose (rhinitis)
- fever (usually unnoticed)
Dogs will have following symptoms when CDV affects the brain and spinal cord (encephalomyelitis), secondary bacterial infections.
- muscle incoordination (ataxia)
- uncontrollable muscle twitch (myoclonus)
- hard pad disease
- abnormal increase in sensitivity to stimuli of the senses including hearing, tasting, feeling sense (hyperesthesia)
- partial or incomplete paralysis (paresis)
- deterioration of mental abilities
Written by Mark Tarnsterton