The Veterinary Association of Belize advises the general public that veterinary clinics in Belize, particularly in Belize City, are reporting an increase in outbreaks of Canine Distemper. This disease of puppies and dogs is often fatal and those that survive have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage. All dogs are at risk but puppies younger than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against the disease are at increased risk of acquiring the disease. Puppies and dogs often become infected through airborne exposure. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months and mother dogs can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies.
Canine Distemper is a contagious viral disease that attacks the nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems of puppies and dogs. It can also affect wildlife such as ferrets, foxes, skunks and coyotes. Contact between dogs and wildlife can cause spread of the disease.
Infected puppies and dogs may have a fever, lack appetite, be depressed, have a discharge from their eyes and nostrils, be coughing and vomiting and have nervous signs. Nervous signs include circling, head tilt, twitches, convulsions, seizures and paralysis.
Vaccination is crucial in preventing Canine Distemper. Avoid your puppies and dogs contacting infected animals. Talk to your registered veterinarian about having your puppy and dog properly immunized against Canine Distemper. Check the Veterinary Association of Belize and your veterinarian (Veterinary Clinic) Facebook pages for further information.