Two cases of canine distemper were recently confirmed by an Oak Ridge veterinarian’s office, city officials said.
Also, a dog adopted from the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter in January may have contracted distemper, the Oak Ridge Police Department said. It was not known if the adopted dog contracted the disease before or after being adopted.
As a precaution, all animals brought into the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter are being vaccinated on arrival. The shelter is separating dogs with any kind of cough or nasal discharge from dogs available for adoption.
No cats have tested positive for distemper. Cats and dogs cannot pass the disease to each other.
Early signs of canine distemper include sneezing, coughing, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Depression and/or loss of appetite are also symptoms. The virus can be passed from dog to dog through sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls.
The disease was all but eradicated about 40 years ago but is seeing resurgence, particularly in rural areas where dogs have not been vaccinated.
The shelter staff has been taking extra precautions cleaning and sanitizing kennels with bleach and disposing of items such as towels and blankets that might be contaminated. Pet owners should be wary of wild animals, such as raccoons and foxes, that can carry the virus.
For more information on prevention of distemper, visit the following ASPCA website at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/distemper.