Can a Person Catch Distemper From a Dog?

by Milton Kazmeyer
    You can catch distemper from a sick dog, but the virus will not affect you.

    You can catch distemper from a sick dog, but the virus will not affect you.

    Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Canine distemper is an extremely dangerous viral disease that can prove fatal to dogs. Humans can catch distemper from dogs, but the resulting infection is completely asymptomatic.

    The virus that causes distemper is very similar to the virus that causes measles in humans, to the extent that a vaccination for one disease also protects against the other. In dogs, distemper causes eye and nose discharge and coughing, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, the dog’s immune system fights off the infection, but in others, it can progress to neurological effects such as seizures and tremors.

    The distemper virus is capable of surviving in the human body, but it has not evolved the ability to infect and reproduce human cells. However, exposure to distemper in a dog can make you a carrier of the disease, even though it shows no symptoms. If you have ever had a dog with distemper, immunize any other animals you bring into your home against the disease to prevent a possible infection.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.

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