10909 Indian Head HighwayFort Washington, MD 20744(301) 292-1150(301) 292-1056
What is it?
Is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus.
 
Who is susceptible to it?
Dogs, ferrets, foxes, coyotes, wolves, jackals, raccoons.
 
How does it spread?
The virus is shed via all body excretions, especially respiratory ones. 
 
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs begin to show 2 to 4 days after exposure.
 
What are the symptoms?
Infection with the virus can have 3 outcomes:
  1. Mild disease – signs include fever, decreased appetite, depression and eye irritation/discharge.
  2. Severe disease – signs include fever, eye and nasal discharge (often green/ yellow), cough, depression, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
  3. Neurologic disease – Evident 1 to 3 weeks after recovery.  Signs include seizures, pacing, circling, behavioral changes, change in gait, difficulty walking, partial/complete paralysis, and unusual movements.
Is there a test for it?
Yes.  Two blood samples are collected (the first collected while the animal is sick and the second collected 3 weeks later) and sent out to the lab.
 
How is it treated?
Treatment largely consists of supportive care.  In this case fluid therapy (IV) to maintain hydration and proper nutritional support are required.  Anti-vomiting, anticonvulsant injectable medications and antibiotics may be used as needed.
 
Cleaning the environment?
The virus is inactivated by heat, sunlight, most detergents, soaps and chemicals.
 
Is there a vaccine?
Yes!  The vaccine (Modified Live) is the “D” in the DHPP vaccine.  The vaccine is given by injection and requires two doses 4 weeks apart with yearly boosters. Puppies should receive a minimum of two doses after 12 weeks of age.
 
Risk for humans?
Man is not known to be affected by the canine Distemper Virus.
 
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