A 6-yr-old male snow leopard (Panthera uncia) presented with acute seizures, hyperthermia, and tachypnea. Because of a diagnosis of anuric renal failure, the animal was euthanized. On histopathologic examination, numerous intralesional intracytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the lungs, lymph nodes, and stomach. Positive immunohistochemical staining for canine distemper virus (CDV) was found in the lungs and, to a lesser extent, in the lymph nodes and brain. Molecular testing yielded a CDV H gene sequence that was closely related to CDV isolates concurrently found in wild raccoons from adjacent forested areas. The leopard had been vaccinated once against CDV with the use of a recombinant canarypox-vectored live vaccine during a routine wellness examination 12 wk prior to death. Serial serum neutralization titers performed on banked serum collected between vaccination and death showed poor serologic response to the vaccine. This case demonstrates a probable failure of protection against naturally occurring CDV.
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