Canine Distemper outbreak along NC/SC border – what you need to know.

We received the following email alert from the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association: 

“The NCVMA (North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association) has received reports of a Canine Distemper outbreak along the North Carolina and South Carolina border. It is believed to have affected Indian Trail and shelters in Chesterfield, Lancaster, and Monroe, NC.  We wanted to alert our members in order to take appropriate measures. This is all the information we have at this moment. We’ll share any new info as we receive it.”

Along with that information, we want to share a few things with you about distemper so you can take precautions if necessary.

What is Distemper? Distemper is a contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems in dogs and puppies. The distemper virus also can be found in wildlife such as foxes, raccoons, coyotes and skunks. Distemper is often fatal and dogs who do survive, often have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage.

How is Distemper spread? Puppies and dogs are generally infected through airborne exposure from an infected dog or wild animal. The virus can also by transmitted through contact with shared food and water bowls and equipment. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months and mother dogs can transmit the virus to her puppies via the placenta.

What are the symptoms of Distemper? Initially, symptoms include watery to pus-like discharge from the eyes. They then develop nasal discharge, fever, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, neurological symptoms develop such as seizures, head tilt, jaw chewing movements, circling, partial to complete paralysis.

Is my dog at risk? Any dog who has never had a distemper vaccination is at risk. Puppies need to have a series of vaccinations in order to boost their immunity to be considered “protected”. If your puppy has not received his full “series” of vaccinations, he may not be protected. Contact your veterinarian if you have any question on whether or not your pet is protected against distemper.

How can I protect my dog? Make sure your pet has received all vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian. Consider avoiding places where there may be wildlife or stray dogs or dogs that may not be vaccinated.

At Johnston Animal Hospital, we consider our patients and clients family. We will continue to update you on any new information as we have it on this outbreak. As always, if you have any questions regarding distemper or anything else, please call our office at 919-934-3511. You may also request an appointment online anytime by visiting our website.