LOCAL animal health officials have confirmed that there is a Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) outbreak in New Providence.
Last week, The Bahamas Humane Society warned dog owners about the deadly virus but had not confirmed that it was behind the deaths of dogs in the country.
In a statement released on the weekend, The Bahamas Veterinary Medical Association (BVMA) said it will partner with the Ministry of Agriculture, member veterinarians, The Bahamas Humane Society and rescue and welfare groups to address this serious issue.
Animal health officials warn that the virus “is a highly contagious viral disease that is airborne and affects mostly puppies and some adult dogs”.
They add that there is no treatment or cure for the disease, but it is preventable through vaccination.
It is not contagious to humans or cats.
“Experts in the US are assisting local authorities and the BVMA in this,” the group said in a statement. “We have the best in the world giving direction and support. They confirm that no humans are at risk and that vaccines are essential.”
The BVMA urged dog owners who have not had their pet vaccinated in the past month to vaccinate their dog immediately.
“Puppies are particularly vulnerable to distemper, so make sure that your puppies are kept on property, have no interaction with dogs outside your home, and that they get a full series of vaccines.”
The group also advised dog owners to keep their pet on property and avoid off-property walks and play groups.
To deter the virus, the BVMA recommends disinfecting floors and the entrance of your home with a mixture of 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of water.
“Foot baths at the entrance to your home and property are useful so you do not track infection in or out. The area in which the dogs are kept can also be disinfected during this time period.
“Bleach should not be directly applied to your animals in any form, not even diluted with water as it will hurt them.”
“The distemper virus does not like warm weather or sunshine. It only remains catchable for about three hours on surfaces and outdoors, including on grass, where it can dry out.”
The BVMA has also advised that mass spay/neuter efforts should cease for the time being.
The Bahamas Humane Society has temporarily suspended dog adoptions to help contain this disease.
Puppies should not be bought, sold, given or transferred as they are our most vulnerable patients, the statement said.
Symptoms of the virus include: runny nose; discharge from eyes; coughing or sneezing; vomiting and/or diarrhea; lethargy or not eating; seizures/nervous twitching/head tremors; incoordination.
If you have any questions, or concerns, or you see any symptoms of distemper in your dogs, contact your vet immediately or The Bahamas Humane Society at 323-5138 or 325-6742.