(WBNG Binghamton) The SPCA of Tompkins County, working with the Tompkins County Health Department Environmental Health Division, has discovered canine distemper in a sick skunk picked up in Cayuga Heights last week. The skunk, tested by the Health Department, died of the disease.
According to a news release:
Canine distemper has been found in wildlife in nearby counties over the past few weeks and it is possible that these outbreaks may lead to an epidemic in wildlife. Canine Distemper is very contagious, often fatal, and poses a risk to dogs in Tompkins County who are very young, very old and/or not fully vaccinated.
Jim Bouderau, executive director of the SPCA of Tompkins County, states “I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your pets are fully vaccinated. Rabies is not the only risk in the environment, and people really need to pay attention to their veterinarians’ guidelines on all vaccinations. These risks are one of the reasons that every pet that arrives at the SPCA is vaccinated upon intake. ”
Usually, puppies need vaccinations at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and 12 weeks. Puppies should not be allowed outside until after their first or second shots. Young puppies should also not be allowed in areas frequented by wildlife or potentially unvaccinated dogs. Pet owners should also make sure that their pets avoid sick or injured wildlife.
Bouderau states that residents who suspect diseased wildlife can contact a wildlife rehabilitator, or “only if they or a companion animal has had contact with the sick wildlife, the Tompkins County Health Department should be contacted at (607) 274-6688.”
Wildlife rehabilitators have special training and licenses. The SPCA of Tompkins County is not licensed to take in or treat any kind of wildlife and cannot help with sick or injured wildlife, but at the same time wants to make pet guardians aware of the danger of Canine Distemper.
Canine Distemper does not affect cats, but cats should be fully vaccinated according to their veterinarians and, ideally, cats should be kept inside whenever possible to avoid parasitic and other diseases.