The Oak Ridge Animal Shelter is temporarily closed after canine distemper tests came back positive.
All dogs in the Animal Shelter that tested positive have been euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading, and the shelter staff is taking measures to prevent widespread infection within the canine community, a City of Oak Ridge press release said. Those preventive measures include cleaning and disinfecting.
The canine distemper tests were conducted by the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine. The Animal Shelter could reopen at 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 28.
The Animal Shelter had a distemper outbreak in March of this year, and the staff started taking precautions by vaccinating all animals on intake, the press release said. However, this time the animal was turned into the Animal Shelter already infected with distemper.
The Animal Shelter is working with the staff veterinarian to create a quarantine area, where animals will remain for two weeks after intake to observe the animal for signs of disease.
No cats have tested positive for distemper. Cats and dogs cannot pass this disease to each other, the press release said.
The virus can be passed from dog to dog through sneezing, coughing, and sharing food and water bowls. 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 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 release said the Animal Shelter staff is cleaning and disinfecting all the kennels and disposing of items such as towels and blankets that might be contaminated.
“Pet owners should keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date and also be cautious of wild animals, such as raccoons and foxes, which can carry the virus,” the release said.
The Oak Ridge Police Department announced Monday that two dogs recently taken in by the Animal Shelter had been diagnosed with canine distemper, and the Shelter was closed Friday and Saturday to allow for thorough cleaning of the facility. Dogs in the shelter were being tested to see if others had contracted the disease, the ORPD said then.
For more information on the prevention of distemper, visit the following ASPCA web page: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/distemper.