Distemper Outbreak in St. Louis

Sick puppy

This weekend the St. Louis city based rescue organization Stray Rescue announced that they had a confirmed outbreak of Distemper in their facility. At this stage, 17 dogs have died due to the virus. Distemper is an often fatal virus that can infect unvaccinated dogs. It also infects foxes, coyotes, ferrets, bobcats, and raccoons. Since 2009 there has been a dramatic increase in the Distemper virus in our Missouri wildlife population. It cannot infect people or cats. Signs can range and be nonspecific, but may include any of the following: coughing, nasal or eye discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and a plethora of other signs. The virus can be spread through stool, urine, and aerosolized nasal or respiratory secretions.

Ways to Protect Your Pet

Vaccinations: Be sure that your pet is current on vaccinations. Please call our office to verify if you are unsure. This virus is very difficult to treat (and often fatal) but easily preventable with vaccination. The Distemper combination vaccine is one that Heritage Veterinary Hospital recommends for all of our canine patients. This vaccination also helps protect against parvo virus, hepatitis, and parainfluenza.

Limit Wildlife Exposure: Do not encourage wildlife to visit your home. Cover your trash cans with a lid. Do not leave food outside that wildlife may scavenge. Do not interact with any wildlife you may encounter. If a wild animal is acting strange, they are likely ill.