Overview of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV).

Incidence of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper occurs worldwide, and once was the leading cause of death in unvaccinated puppies. Widespread vaccination programs have dramatically reduced its incidence.

CDV occurs among domestic dogs and many other carnivores, including raccoons, skunks, and foxes. CDV is fairly common in wildlife. The development of a vaccine in the early 1960s led to a dramatic reduction in the number of infected domestic dogs. It tends to occur now only as sporadic outbreaks.

Young puppies between 3 and 6 months old are most susceptible to infection and disease and are more likely to die than infected adults. Nonimmunized older dogs are also highly susceptible to infection and disease. Nonimmunized dogs that have contact with other nonimmunized dogs or with wild carnivores have a greater risk of developing canine distemper.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 28 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 04 Nov 2014