distemper is a highly contagious and
serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory,
gastrointestinal, and, often, the nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
The virus also infects wild canids (e.g. foxes, wolves, coyotes),
raccoons, skunks, and ferrets.
Puppies and dogs usually become infected
through airborne exposure to the virus contained in respiratory
secretions of an infected dog or wild animal. Outbreaks of distemper
tend to be sporadic. Because canine distemper also affects wildlife
populations, contact between wild and domestic canids may facilitate
spread of the virus.