Serologic evidence for canine distemper virus (CDV) has been described in grey wolves but, to our knowledge, virus strains circulating in wolves have not been characterized genetically. The emergence of CDV in several non-dog hosts has been associated with amino acid substitutions at sites 530 and 549 of the hemagglutinin (H) protein. We sequenced the H gene of wild-type canine distemper virus obtained from two free-ranging Iberian wolves (Canis lupus signatus) and from one domestic dog (Canis familiaris). More differences were found between the two wolf sequences than between one of the wolves (wolf 75) and the dog. The latter two had a very high nucleotide similarity resulting in identical H gene amino acid sequences. Possible explanations include geographic and especially temporal proximity of the CDV obtained from wolf 75 and the domestic dog, taken in 2007–2008, as opposed to that from wolf 3 taken more distantly in 1998. Analysis of the deduced amino acids of the viral hemagglutinin revealed a glycine (G) and a tyrosine (Y) at amino acid positions 530 and 549, respectively, of the partial signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM)-receptor binding region which is typically found in viral strains obtained from domestic dogs. This suggests that the CDV found in these wolves resulted from transmission events from local domestic dogs rather than from wildlife species.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3