Alachua County Animal Shelter quarantines dogs, three infected with canine virus

The Alachua County Animal Shelter has quarantined more than 60 dogs since Dec. 31 after three dogs were infected with a deadly and incurable canine virus.

The facility has announced that it will be closing dog adoptions and not accepting owner surrendered dogs for the next two to four weeks, according to an Alachua County news release. Dogs that have been in contact with the distemper virus will be kept in isolation while the shelter monitors them for any infection.

All dogs that the shelter must accept, including those that are unowned or considered a public safety risk, are housed in a separate area from those in quarantine.

Distemper initially resembles viral infections seen in humans, causing dogs to experience fever, runny nose, cough and vomiting. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, when the virus reaches the nervous system, it can cause twitching, convulsions, convulsions, or partial to complete paralysis.

It is incurable and often fatal – those who survive usually have permanent and irreparable damage to the nervous system.

The facility is unable to house and treat dogs with canine distemper virus (CDV), animal care and resource manager Ed Williams said.

The three dogs that tested positive were euthanized.

“We need to go at least two weeks without anyone becoming symptomatic and without any new positive test results,” Williams said. “So every time we get a new test result or get a new symptomatic dog, it shifts that clock further.”

It can take up to six months to treat an animal with canine distemper virus, Williams said. There is no cure for the distemper virus and while a dog is receiving supportive care, the virus is transmissible.

Dr. Lance Baltzley, CEO of Newberry Animal Hospital Group in Alachua County, specializes in veterinary medicine. While every dog ​​can be at risk of contracting the distemper virus, a disease that invades the nervous, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems of the animal, puppies and dogs not vaccinated against CDV are at greater risk. high, Baltzley wrote in an email.

The shelter euthanizes wild animals, such as raccoons, that are found with the distemper virus to stop the spread.

“Interactions between wild animals and our pets can accelerate the spread of the virus. Although more often transmitted by coughing or sneezing, the disease can be spread through shared objects such as toys or drinking bowls,” Baltzley wrote.

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Baltzley wrote that the simplest and most effective form of protection against distemper is vaccine immunity. CDV vaccines are available from any licensed veterinarian or local animal hospital and puppies should receive at least two vaccines before they are 16 weeks old.

The shelter has a proactive response plan when dogs catch a virus like this to maximize rescue and minimize the spread of the virus.

It checks what cages or kennels the dogs were in at the shelter and how long they stayed, Williams said. Then the shelter looks at what other dogs were in that area at the same time. Potentially exposed dogs are then placed in a quarantine area.

The facility advised those who adopted dogs in December to watch for symptoms. The refuge also offers tempera tests in its parking lot.

The shelter asks residents of Alachua County to notify it of stray dogs so the shelter can document stray dogs, verify lost reports, and arrange for the dog to be scanned for a microchip.

The shelter is also asking residents to help accommodate stray dogs until their owners can be found by hosting the dogs for a few days or more, contacting friends and family or other shelter and support groups. rescue who can help.

“We just try to minimize as much as possible,” Williams said. “The shelter was already full when this happened and we are trying to prevent unnecessary euthanasia just for space.”

Cats and other small pets such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs are not at risk of being infected with the distemper virus, so the shelter will remain open for adoptions from cats.

Contact Namari at nlock@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @namari_l.

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Namari Lock

Namari Lock is a second-year journalism student and a general assignment reporter for the Metro Bureau. It’s her first semester at The Alligator, and she can’t wait to dive into whatever story comes her way. When she’s not working, she’s probably sleeping or watching true crime documentaries.


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