Saga moves to counter-attack Canine Distemper Virus on Ambergris Caye

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Saga Humane Society is reporting that there is an outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) on the island and that they are moving swiftly to counter attack the virus from spreading. According to Saga, it became obvious when they began registering an increase of cases of CDV amongst the dog population. Most of the cases were from pets found in the San Mateo community but they have also been a few cases in the Boca del Rio and San Pedrito areas. As a result of the outbreak Saga is alerting the community and hoping that pet owners can bring in their unvaccinated dogs in for their vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus.

Saga treats Distemper-1
The virus can be passed from one dog to another through fluids, by touching each other or by coming in contact with virus living on the ground,particularly in shady areas. According to Saga, distemper affects the dog’s brain and nervous system and can be fatal. It is also totally preventable. “Distemper virus is highly contagious in dog populations but is 100% preventable by having your pets vaccinated. The dogs that Saga is treating are pets that have never been vaccinated. For that reason we are encouraging pet owners that have dogs missing vaccinations to bring them in, since those are pets that are more vulnerable. The virus can be transmitted from dog to dog but not to humans. Once a dog is affected, we can provide them with antibiotics. However, in more chronic cases there is not much we can do and we will have to put down the dogs,” said Heather Beck, one of the Directors of the Saga Board of Directors. “Signs of infection include cold like symptoms, fever like symptoms, droopy eyes, and runny nose and in more extreme cases the pet gets violent seizure attacks. We begin to see symptoms seven to 10 days after the dog has had the virus.” added Beck. In most extreme cases, the dog wobbles from side to side when walking and eventually have continuous violent seizures until they eventually die.

Saga treats Distemper-3
Saga explained that they became aware when they began observing an increase of CDV- 22 cases in two weeks. After careful observations, Saga noticed that most of the cases were confined to one particular neighborhood, thus prompting the local humane society to immediately step in and address the outbreak. “San Mateo was the most prevalent when it came to detection. When we see an outbreak like this it means that we have to go into the field and address the issue and try as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus. As an immediate measure, we activated a mobile clinic and brought out 75 vaccines into the San Mateo Area. Those that have been affected, we are offering antibiotics if detected in its early stage. Some of the dogs we are seeing are in their late stages of distemper so there is not a lot we can do at that point. As long as the animal that is affected is kept in a clean and healthy environment with good clean water and food, they can recover,” commented Beck.

Saga treats Distemper-2
On Tuesday August 6th, a team from Saga including their veterinarian visited the area where they saw unvaccinated dogs. While the vaccination in the San Mateo was a one-day initiative as an immediate response, other residents can take their dogs into Saga for vaccination. Residents are asked to please report any suspicious cases of distemper since it can be fatal if the animals is untreated. Vaccines will be at no charge to low income residents, or $10 for those who can afford to pay. Saga is seeking to raise $1000 to buy 100 vaccinations to push this cause.
Saga is also advising pet owners to please bring in their pets for vaccination or to bring in their dogs if they notice any symptoms of distemper virus. For more information you can contact Saga Humane Society at 226-3266.

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