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'Drastic increase' in dog distemper cases reported in Abilene

Published On: Feb 05 2013 09:42:22 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 08:14:41 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

There’s been a “drastic increase” in the number of canine distemper cases in recent months in Abilene, the city said in a news release today.

The city, as a result, is urging dog owners to have their pets properly vaccinated.

“Canine distemper is a highly contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and, often, the nervous system of puppies and dogs as well as wildlife populations such as raccoons, skunks and foxe,” the news release said.

“Puppies and dogs usually become infected though airborne exposure to the virus and contact with wildlife infected with the disease.”

According to Aaron Vannoy, the city’s animal services manager, properly vaccinating dogs and avoiding contact with infected animals is “essential to preventing the spread of canine distemper.”

“There are no drugs available to kill the canine distemper virus so vaccinating your pet against the disease is crucial,” Vannoy said.

First signs of canine distemper may include eye discharge and later fever, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting or diarrhea.

“In later stages, the virus may attack the nervous system including seizures, twitching or partial or complete paralysis,” the news release said. “Distemper results in permanent damage to a dog’s nervous system and is often fatal. Dogs and puppies showing any sign of canine distemper should be taken to a veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis.”

For more information about canine distemper, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website: www.avma.org.