Distemper Outbreak: How to Protect Your Pets

SAN ANGELO, TEXAS -- The Concho Valley PAWS Animal Shelter has suspended adoptions due to a Canine Distemper outbreak in San Angelo. In a Facebook post on their page dated April 30, 12:29 p.m., Concho Valley PAWS stated:

“PLEASE SHARE: Concho Valley PAWS will be suspending our shelter pet adoptions for the time being as there have been confirmed cases of Canine Distemper in the community, including pets that have been surrendered to the shelter. This is not a time to panic or be alarmed, but it is a time to be aware and talk to your veterinarian to ensure your pets are protected and up to date on vaccines. The fact of the matter is that Canine Distemper, like other viruses and diseases (parvo, dog flu, etc), is everywhere and it is important to vaccinate to protect your pets. San Angelo Animal Shelter has been very fortunate to not have had a distemper issue in the shelter in the past, but now that it has been brought into the shelter by an exposed dog, they are working with the state to handle the situation appropriately while saving as many healthy pets as they can. While this is concerning for our community because it can be fatal to unvaccinated pets, it is not uncommon. Many communities such as Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Amarillo, and Mesquite have seen an increase in Canine Distemper beginning in fall of 2016 and continuing to date. IF YOUR PETS ARE NOT VACCINATED, PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE PUPPIES THAT HAVE NOT HAD A COMPLETE SERIES OF VACCINATIONS (4 SETS OF PUPPY SHOTS) TO PUBLIC PARKS, PETS STORES, ETC. These are the practices that should be followed all the time because we never know what disease contamination could be in public areas. Again, this is not a cause for panic or alarm, but it is a time to be aware and a reminder to all of us how important vaccinations are. If you have any questions, please contact your veterinarian. If your pet is showing symptoms of coughing, nasal and eye discharge, diarrhea, lethargy, fever or seizures, please get your pet to the veterinarian immediately.”


LIVE! reached out to Dr. Mary Anne White of Southside Animal Hospital to provide local pet owners an insight on how to protect their animals from contracting this disease.

“It doesn't last long in the outside environment and is easily disinfected by common disinfectants. But if there are animals that are continually shedding, that could potentially be spreading it.” said Dr. White. 

This disease is only dangerous to canines, so owners of other species should not worry too much. As for dog owners Dr. White said the best thing one can do is get them vaccinated. 

“Vaccination is the best means of prevention. If you bring any new animals into your home, especially if they have been in a rescue/foster situation or from any shelter, keep them isolated from your other pets for around 2 weeks as it takes about a week for the infection to show any clinical signs. By the time they show clinical signs, they could have already exposed other animals [to the infection]. If a pet has been exposed, but they have been vaccinated, there is a very low chance of it developing into a serious case of the disease,” said Dr. White.

For those worried about Canine Distemper spreading, Dr. White reassures the community that the virus can only survive for around three hours at room temperature. Furthermore, as long as good hygiene is practiced and owners keep their pets away from unknown animals, especially animals that  show signs of respiratory infection, they should be fine. Dr. White noted that this concern mainly faces dogs and animals in large animal housing situations. 

Dr. White urges pet owners, especially dog owners, to make sure their pet's vaccinations are up to date, and keep them away from unknown animals. If your pet is showing signs of canine distemper, the best thing an owner can do is get the animal to a vet as soon as possible. 

LIVE! reached out to the other animal shelters in the San Angelo area; LIVE! is waiting on responses, but the majority of them have refused to give a comment.  


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