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Beware: Distemper Outbreak

The State Veterinarian issued a statement last week regarding an increased number of canine distemper cases in the Anchorage area. Further investigation reveals that this outbreak includes Mat-Su and Fairbanks. This is a life-threatening viral disease that can kill your dog. THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF, FOLKS! The suspected source is rescues that don't

screen puppies coming in from the Bush (limited vaccinations available there), don't isolate when they arrive, and do not vaccinate or do health exams for the puppies they're selling (for many, puppies are their main money maker). Many of these rescues are known and are based in all three areas of outbreak. If you have recently adopted a puppy from a rescue be extra diligent about vet visits, vaccination, and limiting contact with other dogs. Yes, that darling puppy can infect your adult dog if unvaccinated.

This outbreak perfectly illustrates why the AKSPCA Adoption Center takes protocols with all animals with unknown vaccine history. We have quarantine rooms for both dogs and cats to avoid transmitting disease to healthy animals in our care. Protocols include limited handling, gowning, attention to hand hygiene, and foot baths before and after coming in contact with pets in quarantine. All pets are vaccinated and receive medical exams prior to being placed in foster or adoptive homes. We invest in these pets to ensure that (a) you are not sharing diseases with other animals in your home; and (b) to give your new pet the best possible start. Puppy adoption is not a business model for us; we take our responsibility to pet families and the animal welfare community seriously.

HOW DO I KEEP MY DOG SAFE? 1. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. The distemper/parvo vaccine is delivered to puppies in three doses, 3-4 weeks apart. Adult dogs can be vaccinated with either a 1-year booster or a 3-year booster if all vaccinations are current. 2. Avoid dog parks and other communal areas where you pup may come in contact with bodily fluids of an unvaccinated dog. 3. If you have recently adopted a puppy, especially if it was from a rescue that brings in dogs from the Bush, resist the urge to show him off to all the other dogs you know. Wait until your pup has had all three doses of the distemper/parvo vaccine. Here's some additional information from the State Veterinarian:

WHAT IS CANINE DISTEMPER? --A highly contagious viral disease that infects dogs. --It spreads easily through contact with infected saliva, urine, feces, or respiratory secretions from coughing or sneezing. --It is often fatal (50% mortality rate in adults and 80% in puppies). --There is no cure. --Distemper virus is not transmissible to humans. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DISTEMPER INFECTION? --Coughing and sneezing. --Mucous discharge from the eyes and nose. --Vomiting and Diarrhea (may be bloody). --Depression, weakness, fever. --Unusual behavior or neurologic signs such as circling, head tilt, muscle twitches, seizures. WHAT CAN I DO? --Ensure that your dogs are up-to-date on distemper and rabies vaccines. --If you get a new puppy or dog, limit their contact with animals outside of your household until they have received vaccines and boosters. --Prevent contact between pets and wild animals. --If your dog or puppy is showing any of the signs listed above, contact your veterinarian! The AKSPCA Vet Clinic does not have the facilities to treat this disease and symptomatic pets will not be allowed into the building. If your pet is symptomatic, immediately contact your regular vet or local emergency vet. Do not delay!

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