The Sanctuary Battles Canine Distemper
The Sanctuary is currently battling an outbreak of Canine Distemper, a highly contagious virus that attacks a dog's nervous system. There are a lot of cases in Dumaguete at the moment, and we believe the virus was bought in by one of our recent intakes of rescued puppies that did not show any symptoms. As of mid-May, about 25% of our dogs tested positive for Distemper.
What is Canine Distemper?
Canine Distemper is caused by the Paramyxovirus virus, and affects the digestive, respiratory and nervous systems. Distemper first affects the dog's breathing causing coughing and the tell-tale signs of green eye and nose discharge.
At this stage, with supportive care, the dog can overcome it. If not, the virus travels into the nervous system causing twitching, seizures and eventual death. Some dogs can survive this stage also, but are often left with muscle twitches. Even after a dog seems to have recovered from this neurological stage, they can still have seizures and die months later. We had an outbreak in Oct 2019 and unfortunately lost a couple of dogs to the disease.
What is the treatment for Distemper?
Canine Distemper has no cure. Dogs can be vaccinated against it, but not before 12 weeks old, and like any vaccine, it is not 100% effective, especially if the dog's immune system is already weak, as in very young dogs, older dogs, or dogs with co-morbidities. ALL our dogs are vaccinated, except the very youngest puppies and recent adult dog rescues, who have not completed the vaccination course because they are so young or they are very sick. As of 20 May we have 25 dogs that have tested positive, but we unfortunately lost little Dottie and Richie.
As of now, the rest seem to be fighting it successfully with the help of Canglob Antibody treatment (for the highest risk dogs), and Immunol, Lc-Vit, vitamin C tablets and SMP tablets for the rest.
Shaun is currently causing us most concern, as he has progressed to the neurological second stage and has developed a twitch. We hope he is strong enough to recover, even at this stage. The poor little guy has been through so much already - check out his story here.
What are we doing at the Sanctuary?
Distemper is quite a fragile virus that dies within a couple of hours outside the body, but it is highly contagious as it can be carried on our hands and clothes and is also airborne for a limited distance. A further problem with Distemper is that it incubates in a carrying dog for up to a month before symptoms appear, so an infected dog can infect many others before it is diagnosed.
We remain vigilant for signs appearing in the rest of the population, but are hopeful that they developed antibodies to fight the virus as a result of their vaccinations - we vaccinate a rescue as soon as it is safe to do so. We are being especially careful with cleaning and disinfecting, and much as we'd like to, not taking in any new rescues or making any adoptions until we are confident the outbreak is over, which we hope will be in a week or so from now. Ultimately, all we can do is care for the cases, isolate the population as best we can, and wait.
What can I do?
Treatment and preventative measures are the biggest drain on our resources. Donations, however small, all add up and really do make a difference. Visit our Donations page to find out how you can help us financially. We are grateful for every peso and cent.