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Vet Microbiol. 2006 Sep 10;116(4):301-9. Epub 2006 Apr 27.

Heterogeneity within the hemagglutinin genes of canine distemper virus (CDV) strains detected in Italy.

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Department of Animal Health and Well-being, University of Bari, Valenzano, Bari, Italy.


Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a highly contagious viral pathogen causing lethal disease in dogs and other mammalians. A high degree of genetic variation is found between recent CDV strains and the old CDV isolates used in the vaccines and such genetic variation is regarded as a possible cause of the increasing number of CDV-related diseases in dogs. The H gene shows the greatest extent of genetic variation that allows for distinction of various lineages, according to a geographical pattern of distribution and irrespective of the species of identification. In the present study, hemagglutinin (H) genes obtained from field strains detected from clinical specimens of Italian dogs were analyzed genetically. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a homogeneous group of CDV strains is widespread in Italian dogs, all which are included into the European lineage. Unexpectedly, strains 179/04 and 48/05 clustered along with CDVs of the Arctic lineage, the highest identity being to strain GR88 (98.0 and 98.4%aa, respectively). The full-length sequence of a red fox CDV strain, 207/00 was also determined and analyzed. The H protein of the fox CDV strain was unrelated to strains within the major European lineage. These results suggest that at least three different CDV lineages are present in Italy.

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