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Viral disease in two forms, canine and feline. Canine distemper is acute and highly contagious, affecting dogs, foxes, wolves, mink, raccoons, and ferrets. Most untreated cases are fatal. Infected animals are best treated with prompt injections of serum globulins; secondary infections are warded off by antibiotics. Immunity can be conferred by vaccination. Feline distemper causes a severe drop in the number of the infected cat's white blood cells. It rarely lasts more than a week, but the mortality rate is high. Vaccines offer effective immunity.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on distemper, visit Britannica.com.