The distemper disease is caused by distemper virus. Transmission may be direct through contact or aerosol, but can also be indirect through protein material with high humidity.

The incubation period is from 10 to 60 days.


The classical symptoms are anorexia, dull fur, thickening of the skin on the head and half closed eyes. Later nasal and ocular discharge can occur, hyperemia, thickening and crustiness of the skin around eyes, mouth and on the feet (“hard pad disease”).  In the final stage neurological signs as convulsions can be seen.

In the last couple of years there have been some outbreaks with uncharacteristic symptoms, some of them with a forced respiration as the only symptom.


Histological or immunofluorescent antibody examination may reveal intracytoplasmic or intranuclear inclusions or distemper antigen in epithelial cells of the urinary bladder, kidney, bile ducts, intestine, lung, trachea, and occasionally brain. Nonsuppurative encephalitis may be present in mink with neurological signs.


Prophylactic vaccination of all mink and dogs.

In outbreak situations, affected animals should be killed and the balance of the herd vaccinated as soon as possible.