Lufkin animal shelter closes temporarily due to distemper outbreak

Lufkin animal shelter closes temporarily due to distemper outbreak
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 12:19 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 9:11 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Kurth Animal Shelter has halted the intake and adoptions of animals due to a deadly disease, canine distemper.

Aaron Ramsey, director of animal services, said symptoms can be hard to spot in the early stages, which causes the highly contagious disease to slip through the cracks.

“When a dog is infected, it will display the same symptoms as an upper respiratory infection or a common cold that a dog may get,” Ramsey said.

The disease is incurable and turns deadly, with dogs suffering from seizures, paralysis and hysteria. If they survive the disease, it usually causes lasting neurological problems.

Ramsey said the disease is usually uncommon, and he has only seen cases three times during his ten-year career at the shelter. But, he said it comes in waves, and according to Ramsey, Texas has battled the disease this year.

“Now in the state of Texas, over the last six months, it’s been an issue across the state,” Ramsey said.

There have been five confirmed cases in Lufkin since Dec. 8, with nine suspected cases that the shelter is still waiting for results on.

Since the incubation period lasts anywhere from two to four weeks, Ramsey said if you’ve adopted a dog from the shelter since early November, you should keep and eye on your new canine companion.

“If you did adopt an animal from here, and you’re concerned, call us immediately and call your veterinarian,” Ramsey said.

It’s also hard to control an outbreak of distemper once it’s started, but Ramsey said the best tool to fight the disease is prevention.

Vaccines can prevent a dog from contracting the disease or allow it to recover with less severe symptoms.

“Get that animal yearly to the vet and get it vaccinated against this stuff, so it’ll protect them,” Ramsey said.

Please see the below link from the AVMA for more information:

https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/canine-distemper