Research Article: Molecular and serological surveys of canine distemper virus: A meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies

Date Published: May 29, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Vivaldo Gomes da Costa, Marielena Vogel Saivish, Roger Luiz Rodrigues, Rebeca Francielle de Lima Silva, Marcos Lázaro Moreli, Ricardo Henrique Krüger, Abdallah M. Samy.


Canine morbillivirus (canine distemper virus, CDV) persists as a serious threat to the health of domestic dogs and wildlife. Although studies have been conducted on the frequency and risk factors associated with CDV infection, there are no comprehensive data on the current epidemiological magnitude in the domestic dog population at regional and national levels. Therefore, we conducted a cross-sectional study and included our results in a meta-analysis to summarize and combine available data on the frequency and potential risk factors associated with CDV infection.

For the cross-sectional study, biological samples from dogs suspected to have canine distemper (CD) were collected and screened for viral RNA. Briefly, the PRISMA protocol was used for the meta-analysis, and data analyses were performed using STATA IC 13.1 software.

CDV RNA was detected in 34% (48/141) of dogs suspected to have CD. Following our meta-analysis, 53 studies were selected for a total of 11,527 dogs. Overall, the pooled frequency of CDV positivity based on molecular and serological results were 33% (95% CI: 23–43) and 46% (95% CI: 36–57), respectively. The pooled subgroup analyses of clinical signs, types of biological samples, diagnostic methods and dog lifestyle had a wide range of CDV positivity (range 8–75%). Free-ranging dogs (OR: 1.44, 95% CI: 1.05–1.97), dogs >24 months old (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.1–3) and unvaccinated dogs (OR: 2.92, 95% CI: 1.26–6.77) were found to be positively associated with CDV infection. In contrast, dogs <12 months old (OR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.20–0.64) and dogs with a complete anti-CDV vaccination (OR: 0.18, 95% CI: 0.05–0.59) had a negative association. Considering the high frequency of CDV positivity associated with almost all the variables analyzed in dogs, it is necessary to immediately and continuously plan mitigation strategies to reduce the CDV prevalence, especially in determined endemic localities.

Partial Text

Canine morbillivirus (previously known as canine distemper virus (CDV)) is one of the major pathogens in canine populations, as it causes one of the most contagious and fatal diseases for domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) [1,2]. CDV is enveloped with single-stranded, negative sense and nonsegmented RNA genetic material, belonging to the genus Morbillivirus (family Paramyxoviridae) [3]. Viral transmission occurs via aerosols or by direct contact of susceptible animals with the various fresh body secretions of infected animals [4]. Consequently, CDV infection results in canine distemper (CD), which is a severe disease with multisystemic clinical signs [5]. Despite the existence of a vaccine, several reports highlight CDV, calling attention to the increased activity, genetic diversity and reemergence of other infections in the world [6–8].

In this cross-sectional study and meta-analysis, frequencies and analysis of risk factors for CDV infection in domestic dogs were investigated. Interestingly, the results showed a high frequency of viral positivity obtained from serological and molecular assays. Therefore, we found that almost a third of suspected CD-infected and almost half of apparently healthy dogs were CDV-positive (33–46%; 95% CI: 23–57) (Fig 3A). These general data show the high likelihood of dogs being exposed to CDV throughout their lives and show their prominent role in the viral transmission chain [80]. In view of this, the importance of epidemiological studies of CDV is highlighted as it is a valuable tool in monitoring viral dissemination and in the development of animal public health strategies.

In summary, in the current meta-analysis (including our present study), the frequency rate of CDV positivity among molecular surveys was 33% (95% CI: 23–43) and among serological surveys, the rate was 46% (95% CI: 36–57), with considerable regional epidemiological variations in clinical signal parameters, biological samples, detection methods and animal lifestyle. Variables of adult (>24 months), free-ranging and unvaccinated dogs were found to be predictors of CDV infection. In contrast, complete vaccination, coinfection with parvovirus and pups (<12 months) had a negative association. Therefore, considering the high frequency of CDV positivity found across almost all variables analyzed, it is necessary to plan immediate and continuous mitigation strategies aiming to reduce infection levels, especially in certain endemic localities. In view of this, constant epidemiological surveillance, control of street dog populations, and more knowledge and access for dog owners to the complete CDV vaccine scheme is essential.   Source: