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Vet Microbiol. 1995 May;44(2-4):201-9.

Metaphyseal bone lesions in young dogs with systemic canine distemper virus infection.

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  • 1Institut für Veterinär-Pathologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany.


Bone lesions, restricted to the metaphyses of long bones, were observed in young dogs with systemic distemper following experimental and spontaneous infection. Canine distemper virus (CDV) antigen was found immunocytochemically in hematopoietic marrow cells, osteoclasts, osteoblasts and rarely in osteocytes. In experimentally infected dogs, viral antigen was demonstrated in the metaphysis between 5 and 36 days after infection. Associated lesions, characterized by necrosis of osteoclasts, persistence of primary spongiosa and atrophy and necrosis of osteoblasts and marrow cells, were mild and most prominent between 8 and 32 days postinfection. Metaphyseal osteosclerosis (MO) of the long bones, varying from mild to severe, was observed macroscopically in 8 (19%) out of 42 dogs with spontaneous distemper. Affected animals were between 3 and 6 months of age and belonged mainly to the large breeds. In these animals, MO was characterized histologically by persistence of primary spongiosa, loss of bone marrow cells and necrosis of osteoclasts and bone marrow cells varying from mild to severe. Summarized, CDV-associated bone lesions were only transient and there were no indications of viral persistence in bones of dogs experimentally infected with CDV. Although no clinical signs related to the bones were observed, the present study reveals that infection of metaphyseal bone cells is common in young dogs with systemic distemper and occurrence of viral antigen in these cells results in defects in bone modelling.

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