Canine Distemper Virus found in dogs at Tulare County shelter

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tulare County Animal Services is working with several medical programs to contain an outbreak of the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) at its shelter.

According to animal services officials, CDV was found in dogs and a coyote that came into the shelter between Oct. 23 and Oct. 28. Several cases were discovered after the dogs were sent to partner rescues. Since then, 13 dogs at the shelter have tested positive for the virus.

CDV is a highly contagious disease that is most often spread through the bodily fluids of an infected animal. The virus is often fatal and if dogs do survive they are usually left with permanent damage to their nervous system.

"Several dogs with symptoms came to the shelter from the community, so we believe that the current disease is originating outside of the shelter in largely unvaccinated animal populations," notes Cassandra Heffington, TCAS Manager. "This means that dogs are potentially being exposed prior to being vaccinated at the shelter, coming into the shelter and showing symptoms while in the shelter, and passing the disease to other dogs in the shelter."

In response to the outbreak, TCAS has closed its dog kennels to the public and has halted the adoption of dogs from the shelter. It has also suspended acceptance of owner-surrendered dogs and is limiting its intake of stray dogs.

TCAS worked with UC Davis, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the San Francisco SPCA to address the issue.

It would like to remind pet owners that vaccination is crucial in preventing canine distemper. The vaccination for CDV is very effective and requires four to 48 hours for the dog to begin to see full immunity.
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