Treatment of Neurologic Distemper

en español

Click here for examples of dogs successfully treated with the NDV spinal tap

(ODE – Old Dog Encephalitis.)

This medical protocol covers neurologic forms of distemper which include chorea, seizures, progressive paralysis, blindness. This medical protocol pertains to dogs of all ages who ARE infected with the neurologic forms of distemper. Presence of antidistemper antibodies in the CSF is totally diagnostic of this problem. The neurological symptoms may appear in some dogs as soon as two weeks and in others as long as eight years after infection. In the past, any of these symptoms as noted above resulted in progressive and imminent death.

A new treatment has been developed that has been totally successful in two dogs with all the above symptoms : Both dogs have been positively diagnosed with antidistemper antibodies in the CSF by Antech labs in Calif.

As of Aug 6, 2008, two dogs are alive with minimal signs of the distemper neurologic secondary form. One with seizures the other with blindness and paralysis. Both are alive and doing well 10 months after initial treatment {Photos of these dogs are available and copies or the original lab work confirming neurologic distemper are available.

So far these two dogs have remained symptom free for 10 months. This treatment does not replace lost neural tracts. Neural recovery takes place as new tracts are formed in the brain. I have only used this on two dogs to date. Any further use of this procedure is purely experimental. This medical protocol will be updated and or revised as more information becomes available.

UPDATE JUNE 2009: Several more successful cases have been reported from Texas, Georgia, Florida and California.

Newcastle’s Disease Virus (NDV) is the inducer that will eliminate intracellular distemper virus in the brain, also eliminate the immune disorder causing neurologic damage in the canine. ( C-4 cell damage) I have used the La Sota strain only because it has been available. 1000 dose bottles with 6 cc of dilutent is your inducer. This material can be purchased at any agricultural store that deals with poultry.

Medical procedure protocol for spinal tap treatment

1. Place an IV catheter.

2. Anesthetize the dog as for surgery.

3. Prep for surgery at the foramen magnum.

4. Spinal tap at the Foramen Magnum.

5. Remove 0.1 cc to 1.0 cc of spinal fluid based on the size of the dog.

6. Send the spinal fluid to a lab for testing for anti-distemper antibodies. Antech Labs.

7. Inject using the same placed needle from 0.1 to 0.5 cc of NDV depending on size of the dog directly into the spinal canal and flush the needle with ½ to 1 cc of saline.

8. Treat the dog for shock with fluids after giving this injection.

[Note: A video on how to perform this procedure is available at]

Send saved spinal fluid to Lab for Anti-Distemper Antibodies in the CSF. Any distemper antibody found is totally diagnostic for Neurologic Distemper.

Other tests to be deemed necessary by the attending veterinarian. Toxoplasmosis, immune cells, Infection, other causes of neuropathology, cancer.

NDV vaccine will initiate immune cytokines within the brain and spinal area. It will shut down the damaging immune response (active T-cells) as well as eliminate the offending Cerebral Intracellular Distemper virus within 24 hours.

Regenerative ability of the brain stem cells (Schwann cells or oligodendrocytes, and the replacement of myelin, stem cells) will allow for healing over a period of time and it will vary depending on the genetics of the dog and its ability to recover.

Control of the seizure activity at this time can be controlled with Phenobarb, Na Bromide and other seizure medications until all symptoms come under control and disappear. The time involved here depends on the severity of the damage and the ability and genetics of the animal to recover. This can be a long-term recovery.

This procedure does not replace damaged neurons, nor does it make new myelin or Schwann cells. It does stop the progression of the disease and turns off the damaging active T-cells. It eliminates the offending intracellular distemper viruses. Allows for the survival of infected dogs and stops the immunological process from which untreated dogs will expire. Long-term recovery depends on the genetics of the dogs and the ability of the stem cell system to replace oligodendrocytes and develop new neural pathways and replace damaged myelin.

The basic ideas for these procedures were first promulgated by Dr. John Adams of UCLA in the early 70s. His thoughts were that the distemper and measles viruses were homologous and that the ODE an MS were homologous, if not identical. It would be hoped that just one interested person would read this and continue the above research into MS. May Dr. Adams, a giant in virology, rest in peace.

Life long immunity to distemper is conferred with infection from distemper virus.

Therefore repeat vaccination is equivocal. Live Parvo virus is NOT recommended. Combination vaccines are not recommended. Single killed virus vaccines are recommended after a period of time. Usually one year. If questions arise as to immunity have titers run for any virus.

NDV once given to any dog establishes NDV antibody for which there is no need. It precludes the use of NDV in any particular dog in the future as the antibody will neutralize this virus and prevent its activity on the immune system.

Test for neurologic distemper is a CSF antidistemper antibody test by a lab. Any antibody present is diagnostic. A second test just as specific is an MRI of the brain and spinal cord. Deficits of myelin can be identified and is probable distemper, definite deymyelination. A third involves the death of the animal. Pathology check of the brain will show intracellular virus. All three are diagnostic.

IgG corporeal distemper antibodies do not cross the blood brain barrier. So, if antibodies are present in the spinal fluid then you have neurologic distemper. Conversely if you have antibodies in the CSF and not in the blood serum and have had no symptoms of overt distemper then you have a rare form of distemper probably caused by vaccine.

If anybody has any questions please feel free to contact me. E-Mail – A.W.Sears , DVM

UPDATE, JUNE 6, 2009: These are notes from a vet in Texas who used this treatment. Vets using this procedure are using ultrasound to ensure the needle does not cause any damage. “As far as how to position the head – there are two ways that I have come across. One is with the spine at the edge of the table and the neck flexed with the bridge of the nose perpendicular to the spine – the nose has to be parallel to the table. The other way is similar but the neck is flexed as far as possible – that is what worked for Hunter. The idea is to open the cisterna magnum as much as possible to allow access to the spinal fluid. The landmarks are the same- the cranial edge of C2 and the occipital protuberance (the bone on top of their head, which I like to call the “knowledge bump”).

UPDATE, JAN. 11, 2010: Improvement from neuro distemper is not fast as in systemic infection.  It takes weeks.  You should be on some form of antiseizure medication if seizures are a problem.  Time is now your friend.  Must replace the oligodendrocytes destroyed by the virus and once this happens new myelin is produced and symptoms begin to disappear.  Takes time.  Doc Sears

UPDATE, APRIL 7, 2010: I talked to an old friend vet in Calif today who treated a case neurolgically and had pain.  He treated with Buprenorphine and said the dog was much more comfortable.  And did well.  I would suggest this as a post brain tap treatment to see if it helps with the pain.  Buprenophine  0.005 – 0.03 mg/kg  IV or IM or SQ .  2 to 4 times daily.   Also comes under the names of  Buprenex, Buprenor, or Tumgesic.   Vets have access to this drug.  Worth a try.

I’m hearing of a large group of dogs that are having problems with lock jaw after being treated intrathecally.  Do not know the cause.  But, most of these cases go on to die or be euthanized.  I think this needs to be put into the protocol as an exception.  I know of no way to help this situation at this time.  Doc

Additional information, endorsed by Dr. Sears: “Also use valium orally or rectally.  Between pain control and keeping them relaxed/sleeping for the first week, this helps them recover from the tap and seizures.  For a 4 lb dog, we used 0.7ml up to three times a day of liquid valium–per treating vets tried both the cherry kid’s oral and the IV valium in her rectum. I was given pre-filled syringes of buprenorpnine for a week–in a big jar, and several days of pre-filled syringes of valium plus a prescription was called into my local pharmacy.”

Treatment at presentation of acute upper respiratory disease.

Tamiflu–Turns out some of these other viruses are extremely sensitive to this medication.  I would recommend that 1 mg/lb be given twice daily for at lease 7 days.  Should block most of the viruses we are discussing.

Antibiotics.–All these viruses cause inflammation in the lungs. (flu causes hemorrhagic pneumonia)  All leave a BACTERIAL SECONDARY PNEUMONIA.  My recommendation is Penicillin -G and Baytril inj three times daily in older dogs  9 Mos or older for at least 10 days.
Penicillin -G and Chloromycetin (25 mg/lb) three times daily for 10 days in younger dogs.  (Baytril causes joint problems in younger dogs)

Supportive fluids and feeding as necessary.

There is an effective test for these viruses developed and available through ANTECH.  This is a throat swab that distinguishes the upper respiratory viruses and give a good diagnosis.  Also for distemper there is still the transitional cell bladder test.  Works great to diagnose acute distemper quickly.

There is a test for distemper antigen an intranasal swab that is done at the clinical level.  Problem with this test is that it can and does go positive with vaccine distemper virus.  So, it can and does give false positive tests for distemper and cause a misdiagnosis.

Bordetella is kennel cough.  It is treated with cephalosporin antibiotics.  It does not routinely cause pneumonia.  Can be confused with the viral diseases.  I DO NOT LIKE THIS CLASS OF ANTIBIOTICS FOR PNEUMONIA IN VIRAL DISEASES.

List of upper respirartory  diseases that can and are confused with distemper
Canine influenza H3N8
influenza H1N1
Corona virus
Herpes virus
Many bacterial pneumonias.

Treatment of secondary neurologic problems in dogs remains the same at this time.  This  problem is only seen in those dogs treated late in the disease or those that make a spontaneous recovery.

If you have any comments or recommendations please write to me and we can discuss them.  I came to realize that a lot of the pneumonias that are reported are NOT distemper.  Still need to be treated.

Fighting the distemper virus is only half of the battle. Here are some important notes from Dr. Sears.

You should also review this page on post-spinal tap issues. If your dog is still having trouble after the NDV spinal tap, check out our discussion board for tips and advice posted by other dog owners with difficult recoveries.

A vet in Mexico posted this video explaining the NDV spinal tap in Spanish:

Copyright © 2014 Kind Hearts In Action Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Dotchie says:

    I don’t know and not even sure if our VETS here in our place will be performing this one. Is it really necessary to have a attending vet in performing this one?

  2. very much useful

  3. Please continue the work and research on treatment for dogs in the neurologic stage of distemper. Many vets, especially those in private practice, do not even suspect distemper and by the time they suggest it, it’s too late 🙁 My dog had to be euthanized yesterday.

  4. Teresa M. says:

    My dog was treated with the serum and was treated intrathecally 3 days later at the same vet in Houston. She was 6 days into the neurological phase before receiving the spinal tap. Today is week 2 since the spinal tap. Her red eyes are now clear, the lesions on her stomach are gone, the mucus lessens with each day and her appetite was back to normal 3 days after the tap. She still has a twitch in her neck that seems to be better some days, but worse on others.
    Since she was treated with the serum and spinal tap, what is the likelihood that she can still transmit the virus to other dogs? Is there a point in time in which I will be able to tell the virus is completely gone from her system? I know the virus may cause irreparable damage, so should I expect the twitch to always be there? What test and how soon after the treatment can confirm if the virus is gone?

    • From Dr. Sears:

      “Hello Ed, NO tests necessary. Systemically the virus is gone, GONE. That is what the serum does. Has NO effect on the virus in the brain. ODE, chorea these are the big unknowns to date. I have to assume that the same thing happens in the brain as systemically. Difference is ‘how does the immune system work in the brain’. Unknown. Even my Neurologic physicians cannot answer this question. One of the problems is the virus in the brain untreated is NOT contagious. Cannot grow it in vivo…… So, is it gone as it is in the systemic treatment? If he checks the systemic system for antibodies, they should be there is large #’s. Systemic disease. Given serum I know that he has ether killed or incapacitated this virus system. Know that from experience. Brain is different. After immobilizing the virus you have to replace the out of commission oligodendrocytes. This occurs because of endogenous stem cells. Yes, they are there. Then the next question is ‘how old was this dog?’ Reason is if very young then didn’t have the RNAi system in place to do the job. More on this later. So many questions, so few answers. He has to wait to see physical signs at this point in time to tell if recovery is going to happen. Can take months or weeks for the brain. Takes hours for the systemic treatment. “

  5. Nongnut Assawawongkasem says:

    I’m Thai veterinarian. At first, I’m so sorry about my weak English language. I’m so interesting with your research. I want suggestions from you about using NDV, because Thailand only have live NDV 100 dose vial. Can I use it?
    Now, I have a golden retriever (2 mths, 3.8 kg) with neurological sign, lateral recumbency, bloody vomit. I was treated him with Sulfa-trimethoprim, fluid therapy (Acetar+vitB+VitC), cimetidine. Can you have suggested me?

  6. lLourdes says:

    No hablo ingles, pero me impresiono el suero que usaron contra esos perros con la enfermedad del distemper, quisiera saber como yo puedo hacer pues recogi un perro de la calle y qusiera curarlo se le esta dando antibiotico pero el veterinario me dijo que hay que darle un mes para si se le quita, el come, y todavia no tiene los sintomas graves, que mas puedo hacer,

  7. Thanks for this study,i just hope Philippine veterinarian can also perform this.My golden retriever 1.5years is currently having seizure and chewing fits,we’re just giving usual medication(antiseizure,neurobion and antibiotics).

  8. We have been using this technique for over 2 months and have seen successful succes rates. In DElhi, India where i practice this disease is highly prevalent and this technique is very helpful. i wish that more people come forward and adopt this wonderful technique. have a great day.

  9. Heather Duhon says:

    My parents have a lab/chow mixed and he is 5 years old…They have been fighting wit this battle for over a month…They were told by one vet that he had a rare case of Rocky Mountain Fever and Lyme diease which is very rare in the south. So they begining treating him with meds for that. But he wasnt showing any signs of gettin better plus red blood count was very low. then they brought him to another very that did xray and thought it was his speen which he removed a few days ago…Vets thought maybe he had meningitis and started him on strong meds for that, plus pain meds for previous surgegy, and something for muscle spams… But now they say he didnt have previous dieases and they beleive he has distemper…And he is already having seizures and nerve problems…They have appt with Houston vet Monday but we not sure if we need to stop all meds before they can do spinal tap on him…Can anyone give me advice on this..If so i can list meds…

    • Heather. I’m not a vet myself, but my thinking is that you should probably keep up the meds for now unless a vet tells you to stop. But make sure you tell the vet performing the spinal tap about the medications and prior history. Ed Bond


  1. […] These are dogs who were suffering from neurological symptoms but were saved by an advanced treatment using a spinal tap […]

  2. […] demonstrate the effectiveness of this serum. We also will be supporting research efforts into the spinal tap treatment that can save dogs in the neurological phase of the […]

  3. […] be enough to create the response needed to fight distemper. However, the dog should not be in the neurologic stage [seizures], and the shot should be given before the dog has gone through six days of […]

  4. […] Distemper dog with seizures Here is the treatment for Old Dog Encephalitis, the neurologic form of canine distemper. […]

  5. […] Spinal Tap – for dogs that already experience seizures (spasms or uncontrollable shaking of legs and/or head; neurological stage). This develops eventually with untreated dogs. (more information: […]

  6. […] has a compromised immune system, you will need to use the serum. If the dog is neurological, then the treatment is an injection of the NDV vaccine into the spinal canal. This allows the treatment to attack the distemper virus that is destroying the nervous […]

  7. […] Then we started to make some research. And we found your web site, contacted Ed. He shared all the information about the Newcastle Vaccine and the spinal tap treatment. […]

  8. […] was treated with NDV spinal tap on Feb. 10. Eighteen hours after the spinal tap, he was depressed but you can see that he is looking […]

  9. […] treatments and theories with success. Today, the NDV treatments include the NDV-induced serum, the NDV spinal tap – for dogs in the neurologic stage of distemper – and the NDV as an IV injection to the […]

  10. […] the NDV treatments include the NDV-induced serum, the NDV as an IV injection to the body and the NDV spinal tap, which is for dogs in the neurologic stage of […]

  11. […] I had done so much research and found out that there was one last thing we could do – an NDV Spinal Tap. (Thanks to Lestre of Petiks for encouraging me to do the Spinal Tap asap!) But the Vets at VIP […]

  12. […] occurred — that includes spasms, tics, loss of balance, etc. — then the treatment needed is the NDV spinal tap. Understand that the survival rate for dogs going through the NDV spinal tap is only about 50 […]

  13. […] has a compromised immune system, you will need to use the serum. If the dog is neurological, then the treatment is an injection of the NDV vaccine into the spinal canal. This allows the treatment to attack the distemper virus that is destroying the nervous […]

  14. Overview says:

    […] If your dog has gone in to the neurological phase, you will need to pursue the newer treatment, which involves an injection into the spinal canal. Here are Dr. Sears’ notes on this advanced treatment. […]

  15. […] the NDV treatments include the NDV-induced serum, the NDV as an IV injection to the body and the NDV spinal tap, which is for dogs in the neurologic stage of […]

  16. […] getting the NDV spinal tap while in the neurologic stage of the disease. Most dogs die or are euthanized at this stage, but the […]

  17. […] been heartbreaking because so many times we hear about people who wanted to try NDV — and the spinal tap is the most expensive of the treatments — but they didn’t have means to pay for […]