Canine distemper (CD) is an infectious, contagious viral disease of many carnivore species (coyotes, wolves, foxes, mustelids, raccoons, bears, etc.). Certain species are more susceptible than others, for example, black-footed ferrets and gray foxes are extremely susceptible. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with oral, ocular, and respiratory fluids containing the virus the virus does not persist in the environment. Canine distemper is not considered a human health threat, although the similarity of CD symptoms to the symptoms of rabies, a significant public health threat, is cause for caution around animals showing signs of CD.
Clinical signs of canine distemper vary depending species, viral strain, environmental conditions, etc. Incubation period can range from one week to more than one month, and duration of the disease ranges from one to six weeks. Signs may include coughing, depression, mucous discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, as well as abnormal behavior such as convulsions, aimless wandering, disorientation, circling, and lethargy. Canine distemper is often diagnosed in carnivores submitted to laboratories for rabies testing.