Canine distemper virus is in the Morbillivirus genus within the family Paramyxoviridae. These viruses have enveloped virions that hold a nonsegmented, negative RNA genome. The envelope proteins of CDV have a membrane protein and two glycoproteins. One glycoprotein is the attachment protein and the other glycoprotein is the fusion protein. The distemper virus is a large virus measuring 100-250nm in diameter it is also very sensitive to heat and does not last long outside of the host. (1,2,3)


           A picture of the rinderpest virus a close relative of the canine distemper virus.
A cartoon of the canine distemper virus.         

The Canine distemper virus is also a close relative of the human measles and the bovine rinderpest viruses. The Canine distemper virus has been known to cause disease since the 1700 in France. The CDV was probably brought to Europe from Asia or Peru via Spanish explorers. This virus is still one of the most important contagious diseases of dogs world wide. This is also the case with large felines, other carnivores and seals. (3,4)


Canine distemper virus also goes by the name of Carré Disease. The reason is that Mr Carré, in France 1905, was the first person to say that canine distemper was viral in origin. Yet the scientific community did not accept this fact for 20 because they thought it was only Bordetella bronchiseptica involved in the respiratory disease of dogs.  In the 1927 this statement was verified be an Italian researcher by the name of Pontin. Pontin also received the credit for demonstrating that formolized virus from the brains of infected animals can provide an active immunity to healthy animals. (2,3)