Australian Veterinary Practitioner | Volume 50 (2) June 2020 - Flipbook - Page 4
A few words from the editor
“May you live in interesting times!” An oft used commendation or curse?
Fifty years ago, distemper was a scourge for veterinarians and their canine patients. There
was no specific vaccine on the market, but virologists knew that it was a paramyxovirus and
therefore related to human measles virus. Yes, young readers, they were teaching a subject
called virology to veterinary students ‘way back’ in the 1960s! Subsequently, and with the
advent of genetic sequencing, the similarity of these two viruses placed them in the genus of
Necessity being the parent of invention, and with a vaccine for measles being available for
children, veterinarians used the measles vaccine to protect dogs against distemper.
AVP Volume 2(1), March 1972.
Fortunately, a specific canine distemper vaccine was subsequently developed, and the disease
has become a rarity in Australia nowadays.
In the late-1970s, a new infectious canine disease emerged, spreading around the globe within
1-2 years. A pandemic of vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, with a fatality rate of 90% in untreated