CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Dog adoptions at Calcasieu Parish Animal Services have been suspended indefinitely due to a positive case of canine distemper in the shelter.
One confirmed case of Canine Distemper is keeping Dr. Jamie Houston and the rest of Animal Services busy.
"A lot of them are strays," said Houston. "They can come into contact with wildlife and we don't know. Sometimes, these animals may even be shedding the virus and not showing clinical signs when they get here, so by the time we vaccinate them, they may already have the disease."
It's a highly contagious virus, spread in the air and through fluids, much like any human virus you may encounter.
Dogs with Canine Distemper can spread the virus through coughing and sneezing, and it's hard to treat
"We see ocular and nasal discharge, green from the eyes and the nose, coughing can develop into pneumonia, it can also cause G.I. symptoms, so vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes the diarrhea can be bloody, it can be neurological," said Houston. "Here's a disease that is highly contagious and it can cause all kinds of clinical signs that other diseases can cause, that's why we have to be careful identifying what disease we are dealing with."
That's why they won't be adopting out and Houston asks those who find dogs not to bring them in. Try to keep them for a little while and call the shelter for some help.
It's a very serious and possibly fatal situation, especially for young puppies and older dogs, but if you keep your pets up to date on all their vaccinations, there is nothing to fear.
Oh, and one more thing... cats can't contract Canine Distemper.
"We don't want our cats to be overlooked by something that's happening with the dogs because they're just as important and we need to keep up our cat adoptions and make sure people know we're open," said Houston. "If you want a cat, come in and adopt one, spend some time with one."
Treatment of the virus is really only supportive care and it can only be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Click HERE for more on Distemper from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Click HERE for some tips on how to keep your dog from getting sick.