What is Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease that affects puppies and dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The disease is highly contagious and potentially lethal. A paramyxovirus causes distemper in dogs, which is closely related to measles and rinderpest. By attacking multiple body systems, it causes severe illness in the host, resulting in a widespread infection that is hard to treat.
This is also reported in coyotes, foxes, pandas, wolves, ferrets, skunks, raccoons, and felines. However, it does not affect humans.
How Can The Virus Spread?
Dogs can be infected with canine distemper through direct and indirect contact.. Sharing bowls with infected dogs or licking each other are examples of direct contact. Indirect contact includes breathing in moisture droplets that an infected animal exhales. Contact between a wild infected animal and a domestic dog also carries high risk of becoming infected. Infected animals can continue to spread the disease long after they have been infected.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common symptom of canine distemper is a fever followed by watery pus-like discharge from the dog’s eyes. Along with this, the dog might also face coughing, lethargy, vomiting and reduced appetite. Once the virus starts attacking the nervous system, the dog faces more neurological loss symptoms such as head tilt, circling behavior, muscle twitches, seizures or even partial or complete paralysis. In wild animals, canine distemper mostly resembles rabies.
Is There Treatment Available for Canine Distemper?
There are no treatments available for this virus. If a dog is infected your vet may prescribe certain antibiotics to control the symptoms; however, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. Severe cases may also include anti-seizure meditation as a result of the infection attacking the nervous system.
Can my dog be prevented from becoming infected?
Fortunately, your dogs are usually already vaccinated at veterinary clinics against distemper along with other routine vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. While dogs that are vaccinated do have chances of getting infected, being vaccinated can reduce the symptoms and effect of the virus significantly.
The Outbreak In UAE
Modern Vet urges dog owners to get their dogs vaccinated and to stay at home. While dogs that are vaccinated are also being affected by this contagious disease. Hence the best course of action is to avoid transmission through contact with other dogs. Residents in Dubai Hills have noticed this outbreak in their area and have urged their community to keep their dogs safe by avoiding places where dogs congregate such as dog parks.
Modern Vet urges dog owners to visit either their hospital located in Umm Suqeim or their pet clinics located in Jumeirah Village Circle, Jumeirah Lake Towers or Downtown Dubai in case their pet has been infected or is showing symptoms of the virus.