Characterization of pathological alterations in the central nervous system of red foxes caused by canine distemper virus
Introduction In the last years there has been an epidemic of canine distemper in wild carnivores. We examined brains of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) collected from 2015–2018 for virus distribution and pathological alterations. Lastly, we give an overview over the presence of virus in the animals‘other organs.
Material and methods Brains of 18 foxes from north-western Germany were assessed. Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue was stained with hematoxylin-eosin for histopathological examination. In addition, immunohistochemistry was performed to detect CDV and different cell subsets.
Results Polioencephalitis (n = 7), leukoencephalitis (n = 5) and vacuolization (n = 3) of the white matter were found. Virus was found preferentially in neurons and glial cells of the cerebrum and cerebellum. CDV antigen was not detected in all animals that showed pathological alterations.
Conclusion The findings correspond with reports of severe neurological symptoms exposed by foxes with distemper. CNS alterations and glial responses are similar to acute brain lesions observed in other carnivore species following CDV infection. Infected foxes represent a risk for the transmission of CDV to domestic dogs.
08 July 2020 (online)
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