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Hill Country Humane Society hit by canine distemper outbreak

Adobe Stock image for illustrative purposes only.

The Hill Country Humane Society is dealing with a canine distemper outbreak and has suspended all intakes and adoptions until further notice, the Buchanan Dam animal shelter announced on Monday, June 3. The highly contagious virus can be transmitted to dogs and other mammals. 

Canine distemper has no cure once contracted but can be prevented by vaccination. To do its part to curb the disease and other pet viruses, the local Humane Society is holding a free vaccination clinic on Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. at ACE Hardware, 2607 RR 1431.

“Our team, in collaboration with Dr. Dan McBride and infectious disease experts, are monitoring the situation closely and implementing effective disease management strategies,” reads a media release from the Hill Country Humane Society.

The HCHS became aware of the issue after a Kingsland dog it took in tested positive for the virus. Several other animals in the facility began showing symptoms shortly after, according to the shelter.

Canine distemper attacks an animal’s immune system, making it susceptible to other infections. It also affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, causing a wide range of symptoms that can be deadly if left untreated.

Symptoms include:

  • discharge from the eyes and nose
  • fever
  • coughing
  • lethargy
  • reduced appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • walking in circles, unable to follow a straight path
  • head tilt
  • lack of coordination
  • muscle twitches
  • convulsions with jaw-chewing movements (“chewing gum fits”) and drooling
  • seizures
  • partial or complete paralysis

The virus can also be transmitted to and contracted from several other mammals, including foxes, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and ferrets. Cats can also contract and transmit the virus but typically do not get sick from it.

“We strongly encourage all pet owners in the area to ensure their pets’ vaccinations are up to date,” the Highland Lakes Humane Society said in a Monday social media post. “Plans for additional free community vaccination clinics are underway.”

As a precaution, Marble Falls Animal Control paused services at its facility on June 5 for two weeks.

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