Healing Springs Animal HospitalServing Galax City, Grayson County, Carroll County, and beyondServing Family and Farm Since 1979
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Convenient to:
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Hillsville, VA
Independence, VA
Fries, VA
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Newsletters -> Distemper Twin Counties

Distributed to our Pet Portals members on September 6, 2011.

Below

  • Know More about the Vets and Staff
  • Distemper on the rise in Twin Counties


Know More about the Vets and Staff

You frequently trust the well-being of your dogs and cats to us, so we figured you deserve to know more about the professionals you are trusting.  Bios are going up on the website.  Did you know that Dr. Jenkins is Certified in Veterinary Acupuncture, that Dr. Falk is a published researcher based on the time she spent studying bats of South Africa, or that Dr. Summey once managed a 3,000 acre farm for the University of Georgia?  These biographies and more are now available from the Our Team page.

Slide show versions can be found on Facebook and YouTube 


Five Confirmed Cases of Distemper

10/8/11: Note we have seen several more cases of distemper since this email was sent.  The rise of and danger of distemper in the Twin Counties is fairly well confirmed at this point.

A canine distemper vaccine developed in the 1960s has been so successful, that we rarely see the disease in domesticated pets anymore.  However, in the past few months, Healing Springs has seen five confirmed cases of canine distemper.  Distemper is a deadly disease which even the best veterinary care cannot always fix.  Fortunately, the vaccination is believed to be 100% effective.  Distemper titers (amount of antibodies in the blood) should be checked annually and/or the distemper vaccine should be boostered as part of annual wellness visits.  You may be able to see your dog’s vaccination status in your online pet records.  Feel free to call us at 276-236-5103 to check your dog’s vaccination status.

Transmission

Canine distemper is a virus spread through secretions – usually aerosol.  In other words, spread through doggie sneezes.  Dogs can catch it from other dogs or from wildlife.  Distemper is common among wild carnivores such as foxes, skunks, and raccoons.   Humans can catch and spread distemper, but distemper does not make humans sick.  Humans vaccinated against measles are protected against canine distemper.  Dogs can spread distemper virus for 3 to 6 days before showing symptoms, and distemper survivors can continue to spread the virus for weeks after the symptoms subside.  It is often stated that puppies are more susceptible to distemper and have a poorer prognosis, but don’t be fooled.  Adult dogs with insufficient vaccine titer’s in their blood are highly susceptible to distemper infection, and it is a very serious infection for adults as well.

Symptoms

Symptoms sometimes fail to appear until late in the disease.  Early symptoms include fever (103° F to 106° F), loss of appetite, depression, and mild eye inflammation.  Even though the early symptoms are easy for dog owners to miss and don’t look like much of a problem, at this point, the dog’s life is already in danger.  Clinically, distemper can look like kennel cough, leptospirosis, hepatitis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  As the disease progresses, symptoms include discharge from the eyes, diarrhea, fever, cough, labored breathing, runny nose, and vomiting.  Distemper usually opens the doors to secondary bacterial infection.  Most dogs end up with an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.  A number of very unpleasant neurological signs can result.  Most dogs that die from distemper actually die from the neurological problems caused by the secondary infections. 

Treatment

Treatment for distemper mostly consists of very attentive nursing with nutritional and immune system support.  This may include antibiotics, balanced electrolyte solutions, parenteral nutrition, dietary supplements, antipyretics, pain medicine, and anticonvulsant drugs.  Dogs may recover, but no single treatment is uniformly successful.

What to Do:

If you are bringing your dog for annual wellness checks, you’ve already taken care of this.  If you are bringing your dog for focused exams about specific complaints, your dog’s vaccination status may not have been addressed. If you have not been getting annual check-ups for your dog, given the unusual number of distemper cases we’ve seen recently, it may be worthwhile to make an appointment to get a titer check and have your dog’s vaccine status reviewed.  A titer check will check for the right amount of antibodies in your dog’s blood to make sure the dog still has adequate resistance. 
Don’t let your pets play with wild carnivores (dead or alive).

Best Regards,
Heather Jenkins, DVM, CVA

Galax Veterinary Clinic