Savannah, Canine Distemper Virus

Savannah’s Story

Diana, now one of our nurses, adopted Savannah from a Miami shelter and drove her home to Charlotte. She immediately fell in love with her new baby. Unfortunately, Savannah developed a fever, she began having gastrointestinal signs and was brought to the clinic for diagnostics and treatments. Unfortunately, Savannah was not recovering and began to develop nasal and ocular discharge. She became depressed and lethargic, she also refused to eat, despite aggressive therapy. She then began to develop neurologic signs.

We tested Savannah’s conjunctival (ocular) and nasal fluid for canine distemper virus and she tested positive. Diana had to make the very difficult decision to let Savannah go, her prognosis was poor due to the development of neurologic signs and she wanted to end her suffering.

Canine Distemper is an entirely preventable disease with proper vaccination. We have not seen Distemper at IVC in over 12 years prior to Savannah’s case. We believe this is because of vaccination protocols in our area. Puppies lose protection from maternal antibodies anywhere between 6-12 weeks of age. Ideally, 2-3 vaccinations should be given during this time. Wildlife including raccoons, foxes, and skunks can also carry this virus so it is important to isolate puppies from wildlife. Non-immunized older dogs are highly susceptible to infection and disease as well.

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