Two dogs recently taken in by the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter have been diagnosed with canine distemper. The Animal Shelter was closed Friday and Saturday to allow for thorough cleaning of the facility. Dogs in the shelter are being tested to see if others have contracted the disease.
Test results are expected to be received by today (Tuesday, October 21). If none of the dogs test positive for canine distemper, the Animal Shelter will reopen at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
As a precaution, all animals brought into the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter will be vaccinated on arrival, the Oak Ridge Police Department said in a press release. Dogs with any kind of cough or nasal discharge will be kept separate from dogs available for adoption.
No cats have tested positive for distemperâ€”cats and dogs cannot pass the disease to each other, the ORPD said.
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 it is seeing a resurgence, particularly in rural areas where dogs have not been vaccinated.
The ORPD said 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, which can carry the virus.
For more information on prevention of distemper, visit the following ASPCA web page: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/distemper.