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Possible Outbreak of Deadly Animal Virus

Local veterinarians are warning animal owners of a possible Distemper outbreak in the Big Country.<br>According to Abilene's animal services director,&nbsp; twelve dogs since the beginning of January have been brought to the shelter by people who say they're sick or have Distemper. All of those dogs have since been euthanized.
For the first time in shelter history...This litter of incoming puppies is getting vaccinated.

"We're trying to vaccinate all puppies at intake," explains Abilene's Animal Services Director Aaron Vannoy.

Animal services department is spending an extra five bucks a pop, one of many precautionary measures to prevent an outbreak of the deadly distemper virus.

"It's very hard to just tell that disease from any other and so were being very diligent with any animal that shows signs like that," Vannoy says. "Moving them back to our sick bay and observing them and having to make a decision."

Until just recently, the airborne virus was rarely seen in the Big Country. However just last year, signs of Distemper were discovered in wildlife in Callahan County.

"We weren't seeing the virus in domesticated animals but now we're starting to see," says Vannoy.

While it hasn't been seen in cats just yet, local veterinarians say they're seeing the disease in dogs as well.
While there is treatment, chances are high it could be fatal.

Some signs to look for that could mean distemper are discharge from the eyes and nose.
And while that may not always mean your animal has the virus
Experts say right now its a good idea to see the vets soon as any symptoms arise.

A quick shot is all it takes to prevent the virus, but it's important to start young.
Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated every few weeks until they reach a year old, and once a year after that.

"I don't think we are quite at an outbreak yet, but pet owners need to be aware and get their pets vaccinated," said Vannoy.

Unlike the rabies virus, distemper cannot be transmitted to humans.
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