Alachua County Animal Shelter Quarantines Dogs, Three Infected With Canine Virus
The Alachua County Animal Shelter has quarantined more than 60 dogs since Dec.31 after three dogs were infected with a deadly and incurable canine virus.
The facility has announced that it will close dog adoptions and will not accept owner-returned dogs for the next two to four weeks, according to a press release from Alachua County. Dogs that have been in contact with the distemper virus will be isolated while the shelter monitors them for infection.
All dogs that the shelter must accept, including those that are not owned or considered a risk to public safety, are housed in an area separate from those under quarantine.
Distemper initially resembles viral infections seen in humans, causing fever, runny nose, cough, and vomiting in dogs. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, when the virus reaches the nervous system, it can cause contractions, convulsions, convulsions, or partial to complete paralysis in dogs.
It is incurable and often fatal – those who survive usually have permanent and irreparable damage to the nervous system.
The facility is unable to house and treat dogs with distemper virus (CDV), said Ed Williams, director of animal resources and care.
All three dogs that tested positive were euthanized.
“We have to go at least two weeks without anyone becoming symptomatic and without any new positive test results,” Williams said. “So every time we get a new test result or get a new symptomatic dog, it shifts that clock further. “
It can take up to six months to treat an animal with the distemper virus, Williams said. There is no cure for the distemper virus and while a dog receives supportive care, the virus is transmissible.
Dr Lance Baltzley, CEO of Newberry Animal Hospital Group in Alachua County, specializes in veterinary medicine. While every dog can be exposed to the distemper virus, a disease that invades the nervous, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems of animals, puppies and dogs not vaccinated against CDV are at higher risk, has writes Baltzley in an e-mail.
The shelter euthanizes wild animals, such as raccoons, which are infected with the distemper virus to stop the spread.
“Interactions between wild animals and our pets can accelerate the spread of the virus. Although more commonly transmitted by coughing or sneezing, the disease can be spread through shared objects such as toys or drinking bowls, ”Baltzley wrote.
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Baltzley wrote that the simplest and most effective form of protection against distemper is immunity from the vaccine. VCT vaccines are available from any licensed veterinarian or local veterinary hospital, and puppies should receive at least two vaccines before 16 weeks of age.
The shelter has a proactive response plan when dogs contract a virus like this to maximize their rescue and minimize the spread of the virus.
He checks what cages or kennels the dogs were in at the shelter and how long they were there, Williams said. Then the shelter looks to see what other dogs were in that area at the same time. Potentially exposed dogs are then placed in a quarantine area.
The facility advised those who adopted dogs in December to watch for symptoms. The refuge also offers tests for distemper in its parking lot.
The shelter is asking residents of Alachua County to notify it of stray dogs so the shelter can document stray dogs, verify loss reports and have the dog scanned for a microchip.
The shelter is also asking residents to help accommodate stray dogs until their owners can be found by housing the dogs for a few days or more, contacting friends and family or other shelter groups and rescue that can help them.
“We’re just trying to minimize where possible,” Williams said. “The shelter was already full when this happened and we are trying to prevent unnecessary euthanasia just for the space.”
Cats and other small pets such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs are not at risk of infection with the distemper virus, so the shelter will remain open for cat adoptions.
Contact Namari at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @namari_l.
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Namari Lock is a second year journalism student and general assignment reporter for the metro office. It’s her first semester at the Alligator, and she can’t wait to delve into the story that comes her way. When not working, she is probably sleeping or stuffing herself with real crime documentaries.