(PHILADEPHIA, PA) June 8, 2016. Two dogs sheltered at the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly) recently tested positive for canine distemper virus, the first ever confirmed cases of distemper at the city contracted animal control shelter. Canine distemper is a contagious and often fatal disease, but proper vaccination strongly decreases the chance of infection.

“It is crucial for owners to keep their dog’s vaccines up-to-date,” said Dr. Hillary Herendeen, ACCT Philly staff veterinarian. “Puppy shots aren’t enough; dogs must be vaccinated yearly to receive full protection and to prevent spread of disease among other dogs in the community.”

Upon arrival to ACCT Philly, all dogs receive vaccines recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, including one for canine distemper virus. These vaccines provide protection within 3-5 days of inoculation. The two infected dogs were most likely not properly vaccinated by their previous owners, and may have contracted the virus sometime prior to entering the ACCT Philly shelter.

ACCT Philly is following a cleaning and isolation protocol recommended by experts at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program, and continue to monitor the health of all sheltered dogs.

Sadly, the two clinically ill dogs were humanely euthanized to prevent suffering and spread of the virus. On a more positive note, seven dogs suspected of possibly carrying the virus have tested negative as of June 6, 2016. No further presentation of the virus is expected, but cannot be ruled out.

The public can help avoid tragic cases of this preventable illness and further spread of disease by ensuring their pets are update-to-date on vaccinations. Low-cost vaccines are available through clinics offered by both PAWS (www.phillypaws.org) and the Pennsylvania SPCA (www.pspca.org).

Further updates on the canine distemper virus cases at ACCT Philly can be found at www.acctphilly.org as they become available.