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Canine Distemper Disease

Canine distemper is a highly contagious, systemic and often deadly viral disease of dogs seen worldwide. It is caused by Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and is characterised by fever, loss of white blood cells (leukopenia), respiratory problems, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (like vomiting and/or diarrhea) and neurological complications.
Canine distemper disease is seen in dogs, fox, wolf, raccoon dogs, ferret, mink, skunk, wolverine, marten, badger, otter, Procyonidae, Viveridae, Ailuridae (red panda), Ursidae (bear), Elephantidae (Asian elephant), primates (Japanese monkey), etc…

How do dogs catch distemper?

The CDV infection occurs after inhaling the distemper virus from droplets (aerosol) of moisture exhaled by an infected animal. Some infected dogs may spread the virus for several months after the disease has passed.
Clinically, the disease starts with a transient fever usually occurring 3 to 6 days after infection. During this stage, blood tests may show low white blood cell counts or leukopenia. This may go unnoticed or be accompanied by anorexia (lacking appetite). Then a second fever episode starts and it can be associated with a discharge from the nose and eyes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Other gastrointestinal and respiratory signs such as vomiting, diarrhea and cough, may follow and are usually complicated by bacterial infections. Dogs surviving the acute phase may have hyperkeratosis of the footpads and epithelium of the nasal planum, as well as enamel hypoplasia (not fully grown) in incompletely erupted teeth. There is no way to anticipate if the dog will develop neurological signs or not. Encephalomyelitis (infection on the nervous system) may occur in association with these signs, follow the systemic disease, or occur in the absence of systemic manifestations. In some cases, convulsions (seizures) with drooling and jaw chewing movements are reported. Seizures become more frequent and severe as the disease progresses. The dog may fall on its side and paddle its legs. Involuntary urination and defecation of dogs often occur. Infection may be mild with few or no signs, or it may lead to severe disease showing most of the above signs. The course of the distemper disease may be as short as 10 days, but the onset of neurologic signs may be delayed for several weeks or months.

Due to the Canine Distemper outbreak in the UAE, at the beginning of May 2022, all cases are being reported to Dubai Municipality (DM) with the following details on the day of presentation:

Dog owner’s name, address, and contact information
Pet name, breed, age, and the microchip number
Pet vaccination history or canine distemper vaccine information (showing brand, distributor, expiration date, any related information)
Clinical symptoms and tests performed
Case medical history
Plan (e.g, to isolate and treat symptomatically with ongoing reassessments)
If not conclusive on the first report then send a report again once conclusive with the outcome (survived /PTS/died)

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© 2022, Vetplanet Uganda. All Rights Reserved.

© 2022, Vetplanet Uganda. All Rights Reserved.

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