Canine distemper is an infectious viral disease in the genus Morbillivirus which affects a variety of host species. It is an important disease of gray foxes, raccoons, and coyotes but skunks, javelinas, lions, otters, ferrets are also susceptible. Certain species are more susceptible than others, for example, black-footed ferrets and gray foxes are extremely susceptible. Canine distemper was believed to have caused a significant population decline in javelina in Arizona back in 1989.
Clinical signs of canine distemper may vary but often include coughing, sneezing, 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, lethargy, and loss of fear of humans. Many signs of this disease are similar to those associated with rabies and is often often diagnosed in carnivores submitted to laboratories for rabies testing.
The virus is transmitted through direct contact with oral, ocular, and respiratory fluids containing the virus. Canine distemper is not considered a human health threat.