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Dr. Alson Sears
Ed Bond


Canine Distemper Treatment


(ODE - Old Dog Encephalitis.)


     This medical protocol covers neurologic forms of distemper which include chorea, seizures, progressive paralysis, blindness. This medical protocol pertains to dogs of all ages who ARE infected with the  neurologic  forms  of distemper.   Presence of antidistemper  antibodies in the CSF is totally diagnostic of this problem. The neurological symptoms may appear in some dogs as soon as two weeks and in others as long as eight years after infection. In the past, any of these symptoms as noted above resulted in progressive and imminent death.


A new treatment has been developed that has been totally successful in two dogs with all the above symptoms : Both dogs have been positively diagnosed with antidistemper antibodies in the CSF by Antech labs in Calif.


As of Aug 6, 2008, two dogs are alive with minimal signs of the distemper neurologic secondary form.  One with seizures the other with blindness and paralysis.  Both are alive and doing well 10 months after initial treatment  {Photos of these dogs are available and copies or the original lab work confirming neurologic distemper are available.


 So far these  two dogs have remained  symptom free for 10 months. This treatment does not replace lost neural tracts. Neural  recovery takes place as new tracts are formed in the brain.  I have only used this on two dogs to date.  Any further use of this procedure is purely experimental.  This medical protocol will be updated and or revised as more information becomes available.


UPDATE JUNE 2009: Several more successful cases have been reported from Texas, Georgia, Florida and California.


New information from Geron Labs in Menlo Park, Calif., has developed a stem cell technique to replace damaged oligodendrocytes  in  the spinal spaces.  This procedure should speed up recovery from infected and treated animals in the future.


Newcastle's Disease Virus (NDV) is the inducer that will eliminate intracellular distemper virus in the brain, also eliminate the immune disorder causing neurologic damage  in the canine. ( C-4 cell damage)  I have used the La Sorta strain only because it has been available.  1000 dose bottles with 6 cc of dilutent is your inducer. This material can be purchased at any agricultural store that deals with poultry.


1.     Medical Procedure Protocol:


2.     Place an IV catheter

3.     Anesthetize the dog as for surgery.

4.     Prep for surgery at the Foramen Magnum.

5.     Spinal tap at the Foramen Magnum

6.     Remove 0.1 cc  to 1.0  cc of spinal fluid based on the size of  the dog .

7.     Send the spinal fluid to a lab for testing for Antidistemper antibodies. Antech Labs.

8.     Inject using the same placed needle  from 0.1 to 0.5 cc of NDV depending on size of the dog  directly into the spinal canal and flush the needle with ½ to 1 cc of saline.

9.     Treat the dog for shock with fluids   after giving this injection.


 Send saved spinal fluid to Lab for Anti-Distemper Antibodies in the CSF.  Any distemper antibody found is totally diagnostic for Neurologic Distemper. 


     Other tests to be deemed necessary by the attending veterinarian. Toxoplasmosis, immune cells, Infection, other causes of neuropathology, cancer ?????


     NDV vaccine will initiate immune cytokines within the brain and spinal area.  It will shut down the damaging immune response (active T-cells) as well as eliminate the offending Cerebral Intracellular Distemper  virus within 24 hours.


     Regenerative ability of the brain tissue (cells of Schwann or Oligodendrocytes, and the replacement of myelin, stem cells) will allow for healing over a period of time and it will vary depending on the genetics of the dog and its ability to recover.  Geron Labs may be able to accelerate t his procedure.


    Control of the seizure activity at this time can be controlled with Phenobarb, Na Bromide and other seizure medications until all symptoms come under control and disappear. The time involved here depends on the severity of the damage and the ability and genetics of the animal to recover. This can be a long term recovery.


     This procedure does not replace damaged neurons nor does it make new myelin or Schwann cells. Geron Labs may impove on this.  It does stop the progression of the disease and turns off the damaging active T-cells. It eliminates the offending intracellular distemper viruses.  Allows for the survival of infected dogs and stops the immunological process from which untreated dogs will expire. Long term recovery depends on the genetics of the dogs and the ability of the stem cell system to develop new neural pathways and replace damaged myelin.


The basic ideas for these procedures were first promulgated by Dr. John Adams of  UCLA in the early 70s.  His thoughts were that the Distemper and Measles viruses were homologous and that the ODE an MS were homologus. If not identical. It would be hoped that just one interested person would read this and continue the above research into MS. May Dr. Adams, a giant in virology, rest in peace.


Life long immunity to distemper is conferred with infection from distemper virus.

Therefore repeat vaccination is equivocal.  Live Parvo virus is NOT recommended.  Combination vaccines are not recommended.   Single killed virus vaccines are recommended after a period of time.  Usually one year. If questions arise as to immunity have titers run on any virus.  IE  Rabies ?????


NDV once given to any dog establishes NDV antibody for  which there is no need. It precludes the use of NDV in any particular dog in the future as the antibody will neutralize this virus and prevent its activity on the immune system.


     The best test for rapidly diagnosing ACUTE SYSTEMIC distemper is to do what is called a brush border smear of the cells of the  lining of the bladder.  These cells ALWAYS have inclusions if distemper is present. So, easy to collect, easy to stain (quick dip) and instantly diagnosed inclusions in these cells  are carmine red and para nuclear. These inclusions will NOT be present in long term distemper cases. 


  Test for neurologic distemper is a CSF  antidistemper antibody test by a lab.  Any antibody present is diagnostic.  A second test just as specific is an MRI  of the brain and spinal cord. Deficits of myelin can be identified and is probable distemper, definite deymyelination. A third involves the death of the animal. Pathology check of the brain will show intracellular virus.  All three are diagnostic. 


    Any medical person can tell you how to get cells from the bladder. Urinary catheter. Empty bladder, flush with saline and collect some of the last saline.  Spin down the saline  and remove the cells.  Place on slide and dry stain with diff-quick.  Very common stain used by most medics or lab people who use medical microscopy.  Everyone? I should hope so.  Very fast, very cheap, very accurate for Dx of distemper.  If present then Distemper.  If negative, then either Kennel Cough or Respiratory Herpes. or Toxoplasmosis.


IgG corporeal distemper antibodies do not cross the blood brain barrier.  So, if  antibodies are present in the spinal fluid then you have neurologic distemper.  Conversely if you have antibodies in the CSF and not in the blood serum and have had no symptoms of overt distemper  then you have a rare form of distemper probably caused by vaccine at least 1 Mo previously.  Or, silent infection from distemper as a puppy. 


   If anybody has any questions please feel free to contact me.  E-Mail -     A.W.Sears , DVM


UPDATE, JUNE 6, 2009: These are notes from a vet in Texas who used this treatment. Vets using this procedure are using ultrasound to ensure the needle does not cause any damage. "As far as how to position the head - there are two ways that I have come across. One is with the spine at the edge of the table and the neck flexed with the bridge of the nose perpendicular to the spine - the nose has to be parallel to the table. The other way is similar but the neck is flexed as far as possible - that is what worked for Hunter. The idea is to open the cisterna magnum as much as possible to allow access to the spinal fluid. The landmarks are the same- the cranial edge of C2 and the occipital protuberance (the bone on top of their head, which I like to call the "knowledge bump").