An aggressive strain of a fatal disease in dogs, distemper has broken out in Knysna, and has claimed the lives of dozens of canines.
The Knysa-Plett Herald reports that 80 dogs have had to e put down in May alone, as the outbreak was detected in Charlie Lawack Street in Hornlee, and spread at a rapid pace.
“It is really bad, for this month alone up to date we, had to put more than 80 dogs down, that already had the aggressive distemper,” Knysna Animal Welfare Society (KAWS) official, Retha Havenga was quoted by the publication.
Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs and some other animals in the canine family. It has no known cure and often leads to death.
The virus can also affect humans, but hardly ever causes any illness and has no symptoms. However, humans who have been vaccinated against measels are also protected from distemper
It’s airborne, but it can also spread from dog to dog through direct contact of an infected dog’s saliva, blood or urine.
Early symptoms of distemper in dogs include a spike in temperature, a change in eye colour and a discharge from the nose and eyes.
When a dog is infected, it usually becomes weak and lethargic, and can also suffer from loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrheoa.
As with most diseases that affect cats, vaccination is always key.
Small puppies vaccinated after 12 to 16 weeks are more than likely protected for life with just one shot.
If you are unsure if your dog has been vaccinated from distemper, it’s best to check with your vet, especially with the more aggressive strain going around.
As the old cliche goes, rather safe than sorry.
Also read: Rabies outbreak in KZN claims three lives