To characterize the variability of recent field isolates of canine distemper virus (CDV) from different hosts and geographical areas, we conducted nucleotide sequence analysis of the gene encoding the haemagglutinin (H), the attachment protein of this virus. Pronounced differences between field isolates were revealed in comparison to the Convac and Onderstepoort vaccine strains. The diversity of CDV appeared to exceed that determined for measles virus. Phylogenetic analysis also separated the field isolates of CDV from the vaccine strains and provided evidence for the existence of different contemporary genotypes of CDV. Isolates from a Greenlandic sledge dog and a Siberian seal formed a distinct lineage. The remaining isolates formed a group. This group contained two European isolates from mink and ferret, a single lineage comprising three European dog isolates, and another separate lineage of North American isolates from dog, javelina, raccoon and captive leopards.


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