Animal Health Alert: Distemper in Mississippi

The Mississippi Board of Animal Health (MBAH) has been receiving numerous anecdotal reports of cases
of canine distemper virus (CDV) in wildlife, puppies and adult dogs. Some of the animals have been
tested by the MS Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (MVRDL) in Pearl, MS. Below is the
information on the number of cases they have seen since 2013. Please note the increase in positive
cases (blue) since that time. So far in the first five months of 2017, they have tested more positive cases
of distemper than they did the entire year in 2016. They report that the primary positive species in 2016
and 2017 to date have been primarily raccoons, foxes, and dogs (puppies and adults)
Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory,
gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a free,
downloadable, pamphlet for pet owners on distemper which can be found at the following website:
Neurologic distemper can be confused with rabies, a very serious and often fatal disease in both humans
and animals. Rabies and distemper in animals can be prevented by vaccination. The MBAH is
encouraging all pet owners to work with their veterinarians to make sure their puppies and adult dogs
are current on vaccinations. If a pet is suspected of having distemper or has been in contact with sick
raccoons, foxes, or other dogs with distemper, they should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. Do
not handle wildlife, especially those that are not acting normal. If a person happens to be bitten by a
neurologic dog, fox, or raccoon, they should maintain control of the animal or carcass and contact their
local health care provider. Do not shoot neurologic animals in the head because it could destroy tissue
needed for testing. For further information or questions, please call the MBAH at 601-359-117.

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