Molecular and serological surveys of canine distemper virus: A meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies

PLoS One. 2019 May 29;14(5):e0217594. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217594. eCollection 2019.


Background: Canine morbillivirus (canine distemper virus, CDV) persists as a serious threat to the health of domestic dogs and wildlife. Although studies have been conducted on the frequency and risk factors associated with CDV infection, there are no comprehensive data on the current epidemiological magnitude in the domestic dog population at regional and national levels. Therefore, we conducted a cross-sectional study and included our results in a meta-analysis to summarize and combine available data on the frequency and potential risk factors associated with CDV infection.

Methods: For the cross-sectional study, biological samples from dogs suspected to have canine distemper (CD) were collected and screened for viral RNA. Briefly, the PRISMA protocol was used for the meta-analysis, and data analyses were performed using STATA IC 13.1 software.

Results: CDV RNA was detected in 34% (48/141) of dogs suspected to have CD. Following our meta-analysis, 53 studies were selected for a total of 11,527 dogs. Overall, the pooled frequency of CDV positivity based on molecular and serological results were 33% (95% CI: 23-43) and 46% (95% CI: 36-57), respectively. The pooled subgroup analyses of clinical signs, types of biological samples, diagnostic methods and dog lifestyle had a wide range of CDV positivity (range 8-75%). Free-ranging dogs (OR: 1.44, 95% CI: 1.05-1.97), dogs >24 months old (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.1-3) and unvaccinated dogs (OR: 2.92, 95% CI: 1.26-6.77) were found to be positively associated with CDV infection. In contrast, dogs <12 months old (OR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.20-0.64) and dogs with a complete anti-CDV vaccination (OR: 0.18, 95% CI: 0.05-0.59) had a negative association.

Conclusion: Considering the high frequency of CDV positivity associated with almost all the variables analyzed in dogs, it is necessary to immediately and continuously plan mitigation strategies to reduce the CDV prevalence, especially in determined endemic localities.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Distemper Virus, Canine* / genetics
  • Distemper Virus, Canine* / metabolism
  • Distemper* / blood
  • Distemper* / epidemiology
  • Distemper* / genetics
  • Distemper* / prevention & control
  • Dogs
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Viral* / blood
  • RNA, Viral* / genetics


  • RNA, Viral

Grants and funding

This work was carried out as part of the doctoral thesis of VGC (Programa de Pós-graduação em Biotecnologia e Biodiversidade, UnB). VGC was supported by scholarships from Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Distrito Federal (FAPDF) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-Brasil (CAPES). In addition, funding for this study was financed in part by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), FAPDF and CAPES. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.