Health Department hopes to stop spread of distemper

Local News

Wichita Falls councilors could soon vote on some changes that Health Department officials say would stop the spread of distemper.

About two weeks ago officials at the Animals Services Center noticed the symptoms of distemper. It started with two dogs showing symptoms of distemper and that number has grown rapidly. That’s why the Health Department hopes a new ordinance will pass and they will be able to give animals a shot of protection as soon as they arrive at the shelter.

Once distemper was suspected in the Animal Services Center, they took every precaution to keep it contained.

“We have moved all the animals that have been exposed in our adoption wing area. That has a separate ventilation system,” Wichita County Director of Health Lou Kreidler said.

And that’s not all, since the disease is so highly contagious.

“We are using strict infection control practices, so the kennel staff will clean that area after all the other areas in the shelter have been cleaned. They were special personal protective equipment,” Kreidler said.

While they are doing their best to stop the spread, distemper is not just impacting the city’s shelter. As Emily’s Legacy has taken in dogs showing symptoms.

“We had four. They are all owner surrenders,” president and founder of Emily’s legacy Kimber Hopkins said. “They are not ones we pulled from the city itself. It was all from individuals who contacted us about taking in their puppies, so we can get them into a forever home.”

This recent outbreak is why the Health Department has proposed an emergency measure they say would help prevent distemper.

“We will be using a distemper/parvo vaccine as well as a vaccine against kennel cough and deworming the animals,” Kreidler said. “The deworming is really about the health of the animals. The distemper vaccine, you can get some immediate benefits from that but you get full immunity in most animals in up to three days.”

And with more animals vaccinated right away, the disease should have a harder time spreading both inside and out of the shelters.

Kreidler said they sent off 16 swabs to test for distemper. Those tests should be back early next week. And even though they hope to get all animals vaccinated as soon as they arrive at the shelter, it will not cost their future families anymore to adopt.

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