Eight 8-wk-old raccoon pups (Procyon lotor) with maternal canine distemper virus (CDV) neutralizing antibodies (NAb) and 24 8-wk-old seronegative pups were administered a commercial modified-live CDV vaccine (Galaxy D®, Solvay Animal Health, Inc., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada). All 24 seronegative raccoons had detectable serum CDV NAb titers 14 days after the initial dose. Titers rose to maximum levels 4 wk post-vaccination. Mean titers for groups of vaccinated seronegative pups were maintained between 1:256 and 1:2,048 for the remainder of the 3 mo observation period. Geometric means of the serum CDV NAb titer of eight seronegative pups given a single vaccine dose at 8 wk of age did not differ significantly from those of eight pups that were given serial doses at 8, 12, and 16 wk of age, or from those of eight pups vaccinated once at 16 wk of age. Seven unvaccinated 8-wk-old raccoon pups used as controls remained seronegative throughout the trial. Seven out of eight 8-wk-old pups with maternal antibodies, vaccinated at 8, 12, and 16 wk of age, failed to develop a rise in their CDV NAb titers until at least 18 wk of age, 2 wk after the third vaccination. Titers in eight unvaccinated raccoons with maternal antibodies declined steadily to undetectable levels at 20 wk of age. A half-life of 10.55 days was calculated for maternally-derived CDV NAb in raccoon pups. Sixteen vaccinated raccoons were protected from clinical disease following experimental oronasal challenge with a virulent raccoon strain of CDV, 13 to 23 wk after vaccination. Serum CDV NAb titers at the time of challenge ranged from 1:12 to 1:384 and increased during the period of observation. Three of four unvaccinated seronegative raccoons used as controls failed to mount any detectable CDV NAb and were euthanatized after developing clinical signs of canine distemper 26, 29, and 30 days post-challenge (PC). Necropsies confirmed the diagnosis. The fourth control raccoon exhibited transient equivocal clinical signs, mounted a sluggish humoral response, but was clinically normal when euthanatized 42 days PC. In this raccoon, there was focal non-suppurative encephalitis with intranuclear inclusion bodies typical of CDV infection.
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