Dog owners beware! Deadly dog virus reported in Roscommmon Count - WNEM TV 5

Dog owners beware! Deadly dog virus reported in Roscommmon County

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Authorities are warning dog owners about a potentially deadly virus in a Mid-Michigan county. 

The Roscommon County Animal Shelter said a confirmed case of canine distemper has been reported in the county.  The contagious and serious disease is caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association said distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage.

While it’s not clear where the case was found, the shelter is reminding pet owners that it is important to vaccinate your dog, especially if you take your pet to a common area where they may have contact with other dogs.

According to the AVMA, canine distemper can also be found in wildlife such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, mink and ferrets and has been reported in lions, tigers, leopards and other wild cats as well as seals.

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Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure, like sneezing or coughing.The virus can also be spread by shared food and water bowls and equipment. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months, and mother dogs can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies.

Symptoms include watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation, seizures, and partial or complete paralysis.

The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, leading to its nickname “hard pad disease.”

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