Canine distemper is an incurable disease that has been rarely seen in the past decade with the advent of routine vaccination of puppies and dogs. The disease is highly contagious and often fatal. It can present with reddened watery eyes, increased body temperature, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, neurologic disorders and hysteria.
Recently there has widespread media coverage of disease outbreaks in several locations including shelters in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Chicago, IL. Most recently reported has been an outbreak of canine distemper in Amarillo, Texas with one veterinarian estimating having seen 200 cases in shelter pets since June. When diagnosed, distemper is often seen in shelter situations because many of these animals have not been adequately vaccinated for the disease prior to their arrival in the shelter.
Since the 1960’s vaccines for distemper have been successfully preventing outbreaks in most pets that receive them in a proper and timely manner. Distemper, along with Parvovirus and Adenovirus, is one of the core vaccines that every puppy should get. This outbreak of a previously rare disease illustrates the importance of continuing to vaccinate for diseases that are currently under control in the population. Puppy vaccine series and routine adult boosters are vital to the control of infectious diseases.