Evidence of two co-circulating genetic lineages of canine distemper virus in South America.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) is the etiological agent of a multisystemic infection that affects different species of carnivores and is responsible for one of the main diseases suffered by dogs. Recent data have shown a worldwide increase in the incidence of the disease, including in vaccinated dog populations, which necessitates the analysis of circulating strains. The hemagglutinin (H) gene, which encodes the major antigenic viral protein, has been widely used to determine the degree of genetic variability and to associate CDVs in different worldwide circulating lineages. Here, we obtained the sequence of the first full-length H gene of field South American CDV strains and compared it with sequences of worldwide circulating field strains and vaccine viruses. In South America, we detect two co-circulating lineages with different prevalences: the Europe 1 lineage and a new South America 2 lineage. The Europe 1 lineage was the most prevalent in South America, and we suggest renaming it the Europe 1/South America 1 lineage. The South America 2 lineage was found only in Argentina and appears related to wild CDV strains. All South American CDV strains showed high amino-acid divergence from vaccine strains. This genetic variability may be a possible factor leading to the resurgence of distemper cases in vaccinated dog populations.