To achieve proper diagnosis of dogs based on acute clinical symptoms and poorly preserved field samples taken from animals that died due to canine distemper (CD), a new differential diagnostic test has been developed based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In this study, more than 150 samples collected from dogs showing respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological signs suggesting canine distemper virus (CDV) infection were examined. The samples consisted of urine, blood and nasal swabs collected from clinically ill patients, sent to our laboratory by clinicians from various veterinary clinics throughout Hungary. Various organs collected during the necropsy of dogs with pathological changes that suggested CDV infection were also included. Three distinct PCRs were designed. For diagnostic purposes, a primer pair specific to a 409 bases-long segment within the conservative part of the large polymerase region (L) of the CDV genome was designed. Using this test, out of the 150 analyzed samples, 46 (30.66%) proved to be positive for CDV, indicating that CDV still represents a high risk to the canine population in Hungary. For the phylogenetical analysis, a primer pair that completely encompasses the hemagglutinin (H) gene of the CDV genome was designed. The amplicons of this region were sequenced in both directions using the appropriate primers. Our results indicate that several different CDV genotypes are currently present in Hungary. Nine of the analyzed Hungarian strains turned out to belong to the so-called Arctic group of CDVs, and were most closely related to non-European strains from North America, China and Greenland, as well as to the phocine distemper virus 2 (PDV-2) isolated from Baikal seals (Phoca sibirica). One of the Hungarian strains showed high similarity to other European isolates from Denmark, Germany, Italy and Turkey, as well as to other isolates from geographically more distant regions, such as the USA. Three Hungarian strains seem to join a new cluster that is formed by only a couple of strains, one isolated from a mink in Denmark, and another from a dog in North America. Using a third set of primers, a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assay has also been designed for the fast and reliable differentiation of the wild-type CDVs from the vaccine strains.
- Canine distemper
- Phylogenetic analysis
- Vaccine strain discrimination
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