Veterinarian: "It's a very devasting disease"

Veterinarian: "It's a very devasting disease"

CREATED Feb 4, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Cases of a highly contagious and often deadly viral disease, for dogs, is being reported in Arizona.

The Arizona Humane Society is warning dog owners of distemper. It is shed in secretions of infected animals and spread by breathing. It infects the lymph nodes and spreads to the blood and cell line of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and center nervous system.

Veterinarians said cases of distemper typically pop up in the spring.

"It’s a very devastating disease when it gets into a population," said Veterinarian Richard Panzero.

Dr. Panzero adds distemper is not 100 percent avoidable.

9OYS asked Dr. Panzero if vaccinated dogs can get distemper.

"Yes, unfortunately they can," he answered, "The vaccine is not 100 percent. It is very good, but it depends on the immune system taking that product and making protective anti-bodies."

Another precaution, Dr. Panzero said to avoid dog parks or areas where a lot of dogs congregate.

Two new strains of the infectious viral disease have made their way from Europe to the United States.

"The main difference seems to be they're taking longer to show clinical signs," Dr. Panzero said about the new strains. "So, the animal will get infected, but not appear sick."

Symptoms of distemper include, discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.