Wednesday 17 October, 2018

South vet warns of canine virus epidemic

Local vet and former temporary senator Kriyaan Singh is warning the public of the spread of the canine distemper virus, which he says is due in part to the illegal importation of dogs from Venezuela. 

Singh said in a public post to social media on Wednesday that 'entire streets, traces and villages' in South Trinidad have already been afflicted by the virus. 

He says veterinarian clinics are currently experiencing an outbreak of the virus in some areas, and is pleading with owners to have their dogs vaccinated. 

"Please be advised vet clinics are experiencing an outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus cases in particular south regions. The disease is debilitating or fatal even with treatment at times."

"Entire streets, traces and villages have lost their entire dog population due to this illness already on southern regions."

"Please please please ensure your dogs are all vaccinated as puppies and are still given their annual vaccine," Singh said. 

He is asking owners to ensure that they go to certified, registered veterinarians, and is reminding persons buying dogs from Venezuela that sellers there may not have access to the requisite vaccines.

Additionally, hunting dogs may be at risk due to their exposure to wildlife which may carry the disease. 

"To hunters and buyers of Venezuelan smuggled dogs please be reminded Canine distemper is also found in wild life and is prevalent in the mainland especially Venezuela where even dog vaccines are now unavailable."

He added that testing for canine distemper from nasal and ocular discharges are also available at many clinics as studies are currently being conducted on its prevalence.

"Please if you notice any heavy discharges from your dogs eyes or nose, coughing, weakness or in-coordination, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation please take your dog to a vet immediately," Singh said. 

What is Canine Distemper Virus?

Canine distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness with no known cure. The disease affects dogs, and certain species of wildlife, such as raccoons, wolves, foxes, and skunks. Young, unvaccinated puppies and non-immunized older dogs tend to be more susceptible to the disease.

Symptoms and Types of Distemper in Dogs

The virus, which is spread through the air and by direct or indirect (i.e. utensils, bedding) contact with an infected animal, initially attacks a dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes and replicates itself there for about one week. It then attacks the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

Symptoms include:

- High fever (≥103.5 ° F, or 39.7° C)

- Reddened eyes

- Watery discharge from the nose and eyes

- Persistent coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea

- Lethargy and tiredness

- Weight loss/loss of appetite

In the later stages of the disease, the virus starts attacking the other systems of the dog’s body, particularly the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord are affected and the dog may start having fits, seizures, paralysis, and attacks of hysteria.

Canine distemper is sometimes also called “hard pad disease” because certain strains of the virus can cause an abnormal enlargement or thickening of the pads of an animal’s feet. In dogs or animals with weak immune systems, death may result two to five weeks after the initial infection.

If you see any of these symptoms please contact your local vet immediately.