Immunohistochemical detection of canine distemper virus in haired skin, nasal mucosa, and footpad epithelium: a method for antemortem diagnosis of infection.
The reliability of antemortem immunohistochemical detection of canine distemper virus (CDV) antigen was examined for samples of nasal and footpad epithelium and haired skin in dogs with and without detectable CDV antigen in the lung and/or brain. Tissues from 57 dogs at risk of CDV infection were tested. Viral antigen was found in the lung and/or brain of 28 dogs. Among these dogs, viral antigen was detected in the epithelial cells of the nasal mucosa in 24 of 27 dogs, in the footpad epithelium in 24 of 26 dogs, and in the haired skin of the dorsal neck in 26 of 27 dogs. Among the 29 dogs without CDV antigen in either the lung or brain, one dog had positive staining for viral antigen in the skin and nasal mucosa. Biopsies of haired skin of the dorsal neck, which is relatively simple to take, can be used for antemortem immunohistochemical testing for acute and subacute infection with CDV.