Canine Distemper - What it is, virus, symptoms, prevention & treatment, and the 1994 african serengeti park lion epidemic.

Essay by SolidusJunior High, 7th grade October 2002

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What is Distemper?

Distemper is a name that refers to at least three different diseases found in animals: Canine Distemper, Feline Distemper, and Strangles (Horses). I will be focusing on Canine Distemper. Canine Distemper is a highly contagious, systemic (affecting the whole body), viral disease of dogs worldwide. It chiefly affects young dogs, but it often infects other animals such as wolves, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, minks, and ferrets. The disease is spread by an airborne, filterable virus that can also be circulated by infected clothing, brushes, and utensils. Canine Distemper is a morbillivirus, a group of viruses which also includes Measles, Rinderpest and Seal Distemper, called phocine distemper virus. The virus does not survive long in the environment and is easily destroyed by disinfectants.


Canine Distemper is often fatal. Fifty to eighty percent of infected dogs die from the disease. Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, reddened eyes, dehydration, apathy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and discharges containing pus from nose and eyes.

Eventually, the victim will catch pneumonia, breathe heavily, and cough. The disease often spreads to the brain and results in jerking motions of the head, jaw, and other body parts. This motion is called chorea. Brain infection frequently leads to death. If the animal recovers, central nervous system complications such as weakness, convulsions, localized muscular twitches, seizures, seizures, confusion, involuntary urination and defecation, incoordination, clumsiness, head pressing, and poor balance will occur. If pregnant dogs contract this disease, the puppies could become stillbirths, abortions, or the puppies will have Fading Puppy Syndrome for the first month after birth. Fading Puppy Syndrome makes puppies weak and puppies usually die from it within five to ten days. If a dog with Distemper recovers, it will be immune to the disease for several years.

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