Canine Distemper Virus: Wildlife Conservation Implications

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Introduction

Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a viral pathogen that is commonly known for its ability to infect domestic dogs, though it affects many other species. This single-stranded, negative-sense RNA virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family and the genus Morbillivirus [1]. CDV is highly contagious, spreading through aerosol droplets and bodily fluids. Generally, the virus initially replicates in the respiratory tract where it enters the blood stream and spreads to lymphoid, nervous, and epithelial tissues [2]. While symptoms depend on the host species as well as the strain and severity of the virus, CDV often causes fever, ocular discharge, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, paralysis, and the thickening of feet pads [3]. Although much research on this virus concentrates on its relationship to domestic dogs, CDV affects many mammal families such as Canidae (domestic and wild canids), Ursidae (bears), Pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, etc.), and Felidae (wild cats), to name a few [4]. Due to the wide range of potential hosts and the easy transmission pathway from domestic dogs to wildlife, CDV poses a significant threat to the conservation efforts of many threatened mammals. This report attempts to summarize current research on CDV as well as provide insight on how the virus affects wildlife, particularly, the conservation of threatened species.

Genome Structure


CDV is a negative-sense RNA virus that is a member of the genus Morbillivirus [1]. The CDV genome consists of 15,616 nucleotides long and parallels the genomes of other morbilliviruses, particularly that of its cloest relative, the measles virus [5].



Virion Structure


All Morbillivirus, including CDV, possess a lipid envelop surrounding a ribonucleoprotein core that consists of a single




Ecology and Transmission


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Signs and Symptoms


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Prevention and Treatment


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Effect on Wildlife Conservation


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References

Edited by student of Joan Slonczewski for BIOL 238 Microbiology, 2018, Kenyon College.