Between 1993 and 1999, encephalitis caused by morbillivirus was diagnosed by immunohistochemistry and histology in six lynx (Lynx canadensis) and one bobcat (Lynx rufus) in the eastern Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Five of the six cases in lynx occurred within an 11-mo period in 1996–97. A second bobcat with encephalitis caused by unidentified protozoa and a nematode larva also had immunohistochemical evidence of neurologic infection by morbillivirus. The virus was identified as canine distemper virus (CDV) by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and nucleotide sequencing in four of five animals from which frozen tissue samples were available, and it was isolated in cell culture from one of them. To our knowledge, this is the first report of disease caused by CDV in free-living felids in North America.
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Vol. 45 • No. 3