Levy County Distemper Outbreak
That's what distemper does, and there have been dozens of confirmed cases of distemper in parts of North Central Florida this year.
Now, it's spreading to Levy County, but vets say it can be stopped if dog owners are proactive instead of reactive. Vaccinations can prevent your dog from getting distemper, but once they contract the disease, they say there's not much they can do to save your animal.
If their tongues hanging out and tails wagging are any indication, the dogs at the Levy County Animal Shelter are eagerly anticipating someone to come in and adopt them. But recently, seven dogs at the shelter had to be put down because they tested positive for the canine viral infection distemper.
"Dogs acquire infection by direct contact with infected dogs," said UF Vet School Dr. Cynda Crawford. "It usually starts out as a respiratory infection manifested by cough and discharge from the nose and eyes and can rapidly progress to pneumonia."
Vets say dogs usually don't show signs of distemper right away, so they may appear healthy even if they are infected.
"Because shelters are mandated to take in homeless or neglected dogs that are free roaming, they are at a high risk for having infectious disease outbreaks," said Crawford.
So what is the shelter doing to prevent more dogs from getting the virus?
"When they first come in we put them in like a quarantine shelter, and they're there up to 6 to 10 days after that," said Levy County Animal Services Director David Weatherford.
But, the vets who examined the dogs at Levy County's Shelter believe the infected animals had distemper before they were brought in meaning many dogs in the community might have distemper, but there is something you can do to protect your pet.
"What would really help is if the community would start vaccinating their pets," said Weatherford.
In an effort to get more residents to vaccinate their pets, the Levy County Animal Shelter offers a low-cost vaccination clinic once a month, and the next one is next Saturday, August 16th. For more information, contact them at 352-486-5138.
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