POSTED: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 9:47am
UPDATED: Friday, April 15, 2011 - 7:52am
EL PASO - The public health department has seen nearly a dozen cases of canine distemper in the past two weeks.
Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease caused by an airborne virus that is easily transmitted during warmer and windy conditions. The disease attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and, often, the nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
“While the numbers may seem relatively small, the concern is that we have seen a quick resurgence of cases at the shelter in the past week,” said Ed de Castro, Deputy Director for Animal Services. “I have also been made aware of cases popping up in California, Arizona and Florida,” he added.
While dogs and puppies can become infected by other pets through airborne exposure and through contact from contaminated materials, the virus can also be spread from wild animals that are infected.
The best way to prevent the disease is to have your dog vaccinated with a multivalent vaccine that also protects them from parvo, another serious disease, which also starts showing up during this time of the year.
The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:
• Lumps or swelling
• Reduced or excessive appetite or water intake
• Marked weight loss or gain
• Limping, stiffness, or difficulty getting up or down
• Difficult, discolored, excessive or uncontrolled waste elimination (urine and feces)
• Abnormal discharges
• Head shaking, scratching, licking, or coat irregularities
• Changes in behavior or fatigue
• Foul breath or excessive tartar deposits on teeth