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Facts about Canine Distemper

Canine distemper (CD) is a deadly and highly infectious disease that affects young dogs, especially those between 3 to 6 months of age. The disease is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV), which can also infect wild animals such as ferrets, foxes, wolves, raccoons, and skunks.

What are the signs of distemper?

Canine distemper exhibits systemic clinical signs in dogs. The primary symptoms are fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever. Clinical signs can be categorized into the following types:

- Respiratory signs: Ocular and nasal discharge (which may appear purulent if concurrent bacterial infection is present), cough, and breathing difficulties.

- Gastrointestinal signs: Vomiting and diarrhea.

- Neurological signs: Spasticity, paralysis, dystonia, and muscle stiffness.

- Other signs: Keratoconjunctivitis, dentine or enamel hypoplasia, hyperkeratosis of the nose or foot pads (known as hard pad disease).

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How does a dog become infected with CDV?

Dogs can contract the infection through aerosol droplet secretions from infected animals. Sneezing, coughing, or direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick dogs, such as urine, blood, or saliva, can also spread the virus. Sharing food or water bowls can further increase the risk of infection.

Once a dog is infected, the virus quickly spreads throughout their body and weakens their immune system, making them vulnerable to secondary infections. The infection can affect various systems in their body, including the skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and central nervous systems. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months, and mother dogs can pass it on to their puppies through the placenta.

How is CDV diagnosed?

. If an unvaccinated dog shows symptoms such as fever, respiratory and neurological issues, and thickened foot pads, veterinarians often suspect canine distemper infection. It's important to differentiate these symptoms from other illnesses like canine infectious hepatitis, herpes virus, parainfluenza virus, and leptospirosis. Veterinarians typically diagnose canine distemper by observing clinical appearance and conducting laboratory tests like ELISA, rapid test, and RT-PCR. In addition, vets may recommend blood work or chest X-rays to evaluate the overall health of affected dogs and investigate any secondary infections.

What are the treatment options for CDV infection?

Canine distemper is a viral disease with no specific cure. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and preventing further infections. This can include IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, easy-to-digest food, and anti-seizure medication for neurological cases.

Can CDV be prevented?

To safeguard dogs against CDV infection, proper vaccination is the best approach. Puppies are given a series of vaccinations to improve their chances of developing immunity while their immune system is not yet fully matured. These shots are given every 3 to 4 weeks starting from when the puppy is between 6 to 8 weeks old until at least 16 weeks of age. After a year, the vaccine is repeated and then every 3 years after that. The frequency may change for dogs in high-risk populations, such as those living in shelters.

Owners should be cautious when bringing young puppies to areas where other dogs gather, like dog parks, until the initial vaccination series is complete.

When a dog is diagnosed with canine distemper, it should be separated from other dogs to prevent further infection. Typically, dogs can spread the virus through their secretions for up to a month, but sometimes it can range from 2 weeks to 3 months. In some cases, dogs might continue to shed the virus for 6-8 months, particularly those with neurological symptoms. These dogs should be kept away from public spaces until they are cleared by a veterinarian.


Bioguard’s Qmini PCR can detect CDV RNA in 90 minutes at your clinics using secretion, CSF, or EDTA-blood as samples.

To learn more about Qmini PCR, click here

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  Rabies around the World

It is widely acknowledged that rabies is responsible for approximately 59,000 deaths worldwide annually. Although there is proof that animal vaccination initiatives and the eradication of stray dogs can aid in decreasing the occurrence of human rabies, dog rabies remains a significant issue in numerous countries. Additionally, exposure to rabid dogs is responsible for over 90% of human rabies cases and an alarming 99% of human rabies fatalities globally.

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Epidemiology of Rabies:

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Typical carnivore host reservoirs for RABV are:

• Africa: domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), jackals (Canis adustus and C. mesomelas), mongoose (Herpestes spp.)

• Middle East and Asia: domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), ferret badger (Melogale moschata), golden jackals (Canis aureus)

• Europe: red fox (Vulpes vulpes), raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides)

• North America: raccoon (Procyon lotor), grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), coyote (Canis latrans)

• South America: domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)

• Caribbean islands: domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), small Indian mongoose (Herpestes

• Eurasian and American arctic and subarctic regions: arctic fox (Alopex lagopus)

Here are some tips to prevent rabies in animals:

1. Make sure to take your pet to the veterinarian regularly and keep their rabies vaccinations up-to-date for dogs, cats, and ferrets.

2. Keep your pets under your direct supervision and indoors if they are cats or ferrets.

3. Consider spaying or neutering your pets which can help reduce the number of unwanted animals that are not properly vaccinated or cared for.

4. If you see any stray animals in your neighborhood, it's important to call animal control to remove them as they may not have been vaccinated and could be ill.


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About Bioguard Corporation

The Bioguard is a company focusing on animal disease diagnostic services and products.
Our animal health diagnostic center is the first and only ISO/ IEC 17025 accredited animal disease testing laboratory in Taiwan and China.

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