Reports from the South Coast Herald and the Lower South Coast SPCA’s social media page about the Canine Distemper virus outbreak have shocked almost all pet owners on the South Coast. Here is what you should know about Canine Distemper:
Canine Distemper (called ‘Hondesiekte’ in Afrikaans) is a serious, very contagious disease in dogs caused by the Canine Distemper virus (CDV).
However, it is a vaccine preventable disease. The chances of a correctly vaccinated dog contracting Canine Distemper, even if exposed to the virus, are almost zero.
Initially, the CDV starts attacking the respiratory system. This manifests as a loss of appetite, laboured breathing, sneezing, coughing and thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose. By this time, the virus has already been spread to other dogs. During its later stages, a large percentage of dogs develop neurological (brain and spinal cord) abnormalities – resulting in seizures and shaking of the head and what can be described as ‘chewing gum fits’. Some dogs can also become weak and/or paralysed if the spinal cord is affected. Treatment options are limited and the chance of survival is very poor.
Not all dogs will get the disease, but because of its seriousness and contagious nature, all dogs on the South Coast should be vaccinated for CDV. The correct vaccination protocol at Vet Hospital Port Shepstone is at 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age and then annually thereafter. The vaccination used also has antibodies for other serious, contagious diseases, such as Parvo and Hepatitis.
In an outbreak situation, such as what is being experienced at the Lower South Coast SPCA, a strict quarantine should be enforced to prevent any further cases. A combination of strict vaccination protocols for entering dogs, vigorous disinfection of the facilities and in-contact staff and isolation of unknown pets should also be applied.
For more information about this dreaded disease, also see Canine Distemper / ‘Hondesiekte’ (CDV).