Be on the lookout for canine distemper

SIGNS OF DISTEMPER Picture: Anel Slabbert

Kowie Veterinary Clinic and the Ndlambe SPCA would like to focus the general public’s attention on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV).  We have noticed a significant increase in cases amongst the dog population in the Ndlambe region.  It is a highly contagious virus that affects mostly young, unvaccinated puppies of 2- 6 months old and results in numerous deaths.

Exposure to the virus is through virus particles in saliva, diarrhoea, urine, other body fluids or droplets on surfaces that is shed from other sick puppies.    Puppies get infected after expose and ingesting the virus particles.

The typical signs of the disease develop about 5-7 days after exposure and typically affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological systems of the body.

Typical signs to identify the disease:

Swollen, painful eyes with a discharge, crusting around the nose and eyelid progressing into a cough and pneumonia. Loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea.

Eventually, it can progress into neurological signs with tremors, seizure activity and incoordination. These symptoms often start after gastrointestinal or respiratory symptoms. A typical sign is the twitching of the muscles of the head and face.

Diagnosis is often made by observation of the typical clinical symptoms and unknown vaccination history. There is a test available to diagnose distemper, but false negatives are possible.

Kowie Vet has decided to run a vaccination campaign to vaccinate more dogs and to reduce the spread of the virus.  We will offer a 10% discount on vaccinations from June 28  to July 9, excluding weekends.

Outbreak management is extremely important to us, and we need to make the public aware of the problems in the area.  Picking up stray dogs could be a potential problem when strict isolation procedures are not maintained, refrain from bringing unvaccinated puppies or symptomatic puppies onto your property if your animals have not been vaccinated in the recent year.  Disinfection and cleaning are especially important as the virus survives on objects and areas for a few days.  Household disinfectants are effective should contamination occur.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Kennel cough, dog influenza and even parvovirus infection could often be mistaken for distemper virus.

There is no specific treatment, and most animals get put down annually for this dreaded disease that is preventative with vaccination.  The core 5 in 1 vaccination that we use in the puppy series (three vaccines at 1 month apart) with annual booster vaccinations are more than sufficient for prevention to boost the immune system and prevent infection even after exposure.

Dr Joline Kruger

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