Canine Distemper Outbreak in Nassau

The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas has issued an advisory about a severe outbreak of canine distemper in Nassau, Bahamas.

bahamas, potcake, dog

Healthy Bahamian potcake at a Marsh Harbour spay/neuter clinic.

If you plan to bring your dog to the Bahamas in the near future, you may want to bypass Nassau altogether.

If you must bring your pet to Nassau, or if you’re currently there, be sure your dog is properly vaccinated, and adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not transport dogs of any age from Nassau to other Bahamian islands, as it appears that the latter remain distemper-free.
  • Keep dogs on your property or vessel. Limit walks and avoid contact with other dogs for at least the next three weeks.
  • Use a mix of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach to disinfect surfaces, shoes, feet, etc.

The good news is that, in warm climates and sunlight, the distemper virus is killed off within a few hours. During that time, however, it’s highly contagious.

More than half of all distemper cases are fatal and there is no known cure.  According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), distemper is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Dogs can also contract distemper by sharing food and water bowls, or by being nearby coughing and sneezing dogs. Early signs of distemper include sneezing, coughing, running eyes or nose, fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite.

The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas says the disease is NOT a risk to humans or cats.

For more information, or if you suspect your dog may be infected, contact a local vet or the Bahamas Humane Society. Authorities ask that, to avoid infecting other animals, you do not bring the animal into veterinary waiting rooms without advance arrangements.

Related:

ASPCA Pet Care – About Distemper

About Canine Distemper – Pet MD

  3 comments for “Canine Distemper Outbreak in Nassau

  1. linda waller
    July 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    this is terrible news, i imagine many dogs are not vaccinated. has it occurred in Nassau/ New Providence before?

    • July 13, 2014 at 9:20 am

      I know! I suspect you’re right — that lots of the dogs, especially the many strays, aren’t vaccinated. I don’t know whether this is the first such outbreak or not. But I do hope they get it under control quickly — it’s holding up adoptions of potcakes from Nassau to the US and Canada.

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