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Canine Distemper Virus
Clinical Signs


There is currently no specific cure for Canine Distemper Virus infection.  The approach to treatment of animals with this virus is to try and reduce the severity of the clinical signs that manifest as a result of infection (Deem et al., 2000).  All of the actions taken with a dog infected with Distemper are supportive, non-specific, and (unfortunately) frequently unrewarding (Nelson and Couto, 2003).  The sick animal should be kept in a clean, warm area that is free of drafts.  You should keep this animal away from other animals or places where other animals may go to prevent transmission of the virus to other animals (Greene, 2006).  Fluid therapy may prove helpful if the sick dog is dehydrated.  B vitamins and Vitamin A may also help to replace losses/stimulate appetite if the animal is vomiting or has diarrhea (Greene, 2006).
In dealing with a case of Canine Distemper antibiotics may be given in order to deal with secondary or concurrent bacterial infections (Deem et al., 2000).   It is not uncommon to see a secondary invasion of an animal by bacteria when in a weakened state.  Two common places to find a bacterial infection in these cases are in the respiratory tract, as well as in the gastrointestinal tract (Greene, 2006).  In treating these secondary infections, the appropriate antibiotic for the organism and site of infection should be used (Nelson and Couto, 2003).  If the antibiotic of choice is not effective, or a susceptibility test shows resistance to the antibiotic, then a new drug should be used.  In addition to treatment of a bacterial infection, drugs may be utilized in order to reduce vomiting/diarrhea if necessary (Nelson and Couto, 2003).

Drugs may also be the used to reduce seizures as well as decrease inflammation of the central nervous system (Deem et al., 2000).  Neurologic treatment is often not as successful as treatment of other systems (Greene, 2006).  The use of anti-inflammatory doses of glucocorticosteroids, in the absence of systemic disease, may be used to control other neurologic signs such as blindness or papillary dilation from optic neuritis (however the beneficial effects are not well documented) (Nelson and Couto, 2003; Greene, 2006).  Some examples of drugs used for dealing with central nervous system (cns) disease in Distemper infections include; dexamethasone (to reduce cns edema), diazepam for seizures, and phenobarbital for prevention of seizures (Greene, 2006).

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