CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri is monitoring the intake and adoption of dogs at the advice of multiple veterinarians.
With two confirmed cases, the shelter is being proactive to keep all the animals safe.
According to the shelter, it closed its doors for the weekend at first suspicion that an animal had contracted distemper. This allowed staff to separate at-risk dogs from those who were not at risk and to allow for deep cleaning of the entire facility.
The kennels and entire shelter were deep cleaned and a second round of vaccinations were administered to all dogs to provide better protection against the illness.
Currently, according to the shelter, none of the animals in its care show signs of distemper, but are being monitored until they are officially cleared of the illness.
"We knew we needed to take action, even if it wasn't distemper it was important to shut down to allow us to stop the spread of whatever illness was infecting many of our dogs," Executive Director Tracy Poston said in a press release. "We have a plan for situations like these and we are taking precautions to ensure that it doesn't harm any more animals."
Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems of dogs. It is usually transmitted through contact with respiratory secretions and is often carried by wild animals, such as skunks, raccoons and foxes. It is not curable and is often deadly. Distemper is preventable if pets are vaccinated.
"We take in strays and unwanted animals that can carry diseases that can affect the whole shelter. We never know what incoming animals may be carrying," said Poston. "We vaccinate animals as soon as they come in our care, but without a vet on staff and because we don't have background/vaccination information on the animals we receive, we don't always know to isolate these animals or to begin treatment for an illness until they show symptoms which mean the disease could already be spreading. Distemper can be present for one or two weeks without exhibiting symptoms"
The shelter will stay open for cat adoptions, but the dog kennels will have limited access for viewing until it is confirmed that the infection has been controlled.
It will also be managing its intakes with the exception of animal control.
You can click here for more information on the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.