CANINE DISTEMPER VIRUS (CDV)
by Brittany Carames
Description: CDV is very contagious viral disease >and affects the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract (GI) and the central nervous system (CNS) including the brain and spinal cord. In addition to dogs, CDV infects other species as well such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, ferrets, minks and skunks. Young dogs are more susceptible to the virus than more mature dogs. For dogs that become affected with CDV but survive, longstanding immunity usually results, but this immunity typically declines with time.
Cause & Transmission: The virus is shed in feces, saliva, urine and ocular discharge but new infection is typically established by inhalation of aerosolized respiratory secretions (coughing & sneezing). Once the virus invades the respiratory tract, it begins to reproduce. If a strong immune response is not initiated by the second or third week of infection, cells infected with the virus begin to spread to other parts of the body. At this point, recovery from the disease becomes less likely.
Clinical Signs: Symptoms can vary widely in severity. Signs can be very mild with only fever, lethargy, and slight nasal or eye discharge. Clinical signs in severe cases may include fever, watery or cloudy nasal and eye discharge and coughing that is most likely accompanied by difficulty breathing. Decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. CNS signs include seizures, changes in behavior, weakness, and involuntary muscle contractions.
Diagnostic Testing: There is no specific test available to make a diagnosis of CDV infection but a number of tests are usually recommended to search for evidence of the disease:
- CBC (Complete Blood Count) – may show low numbers of lymphocytes (WBC affected by the virus)
- Chemistry Panel – may show blood protein abnormalities
- Spinal Tap – spinal cord fluid analysis
Treatment: Isolation!, IV fluids, anti-vomiting medications, nebulization, coupage of the chest and anti-convulsing drugs. No specific therapy is available but good supportive care and control of any secondary bacterial infections is all that can be offered.
Can Humans Get It?: No