The Onderstepoort strain of canine distemper virus (CDV) which has been adapted to newborn Swiss mice was used in a study in weanling mice. Intracerebral inoculation of newborn mice with either the parent or mouse-adapted virus strain led to mortality in 100% of the animals. In weanling mice the parent virus produced less than 10% mortality, whereas the mouse-adapted strain killed approximately 40% of the animals and this was not dose-dependent. Although a meningitis was observed in the surviving mice, the occurrence of viral antigens was less widespread in the brain of weanling mice than in the brain of newborn mice, and could not be detected more than 5 months after infection. In long-term experiments two phenomena were observed. At 4 to 6 months post-infection up to 30% of the mice became obese; however, no viral antigens were detected in the brains. At 13 to 17 months post-infection a number of mice became paralysed and virus antigen could be detected in the brain and lymph glands; however, infectious virus could not be isolated. These observations are discussed in relation to neurological infection and metabolic disease.


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