There is an outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus in South Trinidad and one veterinarian has reported at least 40 dogs dying from the virus within the last month.
This was revealed by veterinary surgeon and temporary senator Dr Kriyaan Singh who, yesterday, urged pet owners to ensure that their pets were vaccinated.
The Canine Distemper Virus affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of the animal. The virus is fatal in many cases.
Speaking to Newsday during an interview, Singh said that it was horrifying to see the number of dogs dying over the last month as a result of the virus. He said that some that were brought into his clinic were not able to survive though they were given the vaccine.
He said the ones that survived had been previously vaccinated. He said, in South Trinidad, dogs across different villages had already been afflicted by the virus.
“The disease is debilitating or fatal even with treatment at times,” Singh said. “Please, please ensure your dogs are all vaccinated as puppies and are still given their annual vaccine.”
He added that it was the duty of pet owners to visit certified and registered veterinarians.
Singh believes that the virus may have entered the country from Venezuela. He said that some hunters and buyers smuggled dogs from Venezuela to Trinidad where there was an outbreak of the virus.
“To hunters and buyers of Venezuelan smuggled dogs,” Singh said.
“Please be reminded Canine distemper is also found in wild life and is prevalent in the mainland, especially Venezuela, where dog vaccines are now unavailable.”
Singh said testing for canine distemper from nasal and ocular discharges were also available at many clinics as studies were currently being conducted on its prevalence.
He added, “Please, if you notice any heavy discharges from your dogs’ eyes or nose, coughing, weakness or, in-coordination, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation please take your dog to a vet immediately.”
Singh said the disease affected certain species of wildlife as well as two raccoons were tested positive for the virus.
The Canine Distemper Virus is spread through the air and by direct or indirect contact with an infected animal. Pet owners should look out for symptoms of high fever, loss of appetite, watery discharge, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
When contacted president of the Hunters Association, Buddie Miller, said he was not aware of the outbreak but would now inform members of the association and take the necessary precautionary measures. He said the matter was of serious concern.