Virus Spreading Amongst Midland Dogs

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The distemper virus is spreading in the basin.

Ron Luetke just adopted a dog.

"She seems to be pretty friendly so I'm hoping she turns out to be a really good dog," Luetke said.

He's not taking any chances with her health, so he's getting her every vaccine he possibly can, including one for distemper. It's a highly contagious virus that sickens dogs.

On Wednesday, the Midland County Animal Shelter offered, for the first time ever, distemper vaccines. They were only $10 per shot.

Mary Smelser was in line with her dogs to get them the vaccines.

"We love our animals and we don't want them to get sick and we don't want the virus to spread if it is more popular right now," Smelser said.

Paul O'Neill with Midland Animal Services says, "We've had dogs that have been adopted from here that have tested positive for distemper and then dogs that have gone to the Midland Humane Coalition that have shown signs and after they've been adopted they've tested positive for distemper."

Several vet clinics NewsWest 9 contacted said the virus is on the rise.

"It's something that as an open admissions shelter, it's really hard to control because we have no idea of the background of most of the animals that we get in," O'Neill said.

Only about half of all infected dogs will show signs. Those signs can easily mimic the signs of a regular cold or flu. Dog owners want to watch out for a spiking fever, watery discharge around the nose and eyes, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly seizures.

If it's caught in time, antibiotics may be given.

"Foxes, coyotes, skunks and even cats can carry the virus that dogs get," O'Neill said.

So there's no confusion, this is only an illness dogs can contract. Humans are not at risk.