Austrian field cases of canine distemper (14 dogs, one badger [Meles meles] and one stone marten [Martes foina]) from 2002 to 2007 were investigated and the case histories were summarised briefly. Phylogenetic analysis of fusion (F) and haemagglutinin (H) gene sequences revealed different canine distemper virus (CDV) lineages circulating in Austria. The majority of CDV strains detected from 2002 to 2004 were well embedded in the European lineage. One Austrian canine sample detected in 2003, with a high similarity to Hungarian sequences from 2005 to 2006, could be assigned to the Arctic group (phocine distemper virus type 2-like). The two canine sequences from 2007 formed a clearly distinct group flanked by sequences detected previously in China and the USA on an intermediate position between the European wildlife and the Asia-1 cluster. The Austrian wildlife strains (2006 and 2007) could be assigned to the European wildlife group and were most closely related to, yet clearly different from, the 2007 canine samples. To elucidate the epidemiological role of Austrian wildlife in the transmission of the disease to dogs and vice versa, H protein residues related to receptor and host specificity (residues 530 and 549) were analysed. All samples showed the amino acids expected for their host of origin, with the exception of a canine sequence from 2007, which had an intermediate position between wildlife and canine viral strains. In the period investigated, canine strains circulating in Austria could be assigned to four different lineages reflecting both a high diversity and probably different origins of virus introduction to Austria in different years.
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Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed