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Epidemiology of canine distemper in Makurdi, Nigeria

S.S. Mlanga
J Ibu
C.D. Ezeokoli


Canine distemper (CD), a major disease of dogs all over the world, hitherto controlled by extensive vaccination of dogs around the world, appears to be persisting and even re-emerging in many parts of the world. It is thought that wild life reservoir hosts contribute to the emergence of CD, but in areas of the world with minimal wildlife contact with domestic dogs, it is thought that cyclical infection between clinically normal dogs and susceptible neonatal animals may be responsible for maintaining the canine distemper virus (CDV) in the canine population. We decided to examine clinically normal dogs in the Makurdi metropolis for evidence of infection with CDV, to determine if such dogs may act as sources of persistence of the CDV in the canine population. We tested 70 unvaccinated, clinically normal dogs for evidence of distemper virus using a rapid CDV antigen (Ag) chromatographic assay test kit designed for the qualitative detection of canine distemper virus antigens in urine, conjunctiva, serum or plasma. We found six (6 or 8.6%) of the 70 dogs positive for distemper antigen; three (3) of the dogs were under one (1) year of age, whereas three were 5 years or more. We conclude that the CDV is circulating among clinically normal dogs in Makurdi, and that a cyclical infection between infected but clinically normal adult dogs and puppies may be responsible for maintaining the disease in the canine population in Makurdi. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the role of vaccination and the possibilities of emergence of new antigenic strains of CDV in the epidemiology of CD in the Makurdi area.

Keywords: Canine Distemper, Vaccination, Laboratory diagnosis, maintenance in population, Makurdi, Nigeria

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eISSN: 0331-3026