Pell City Animal Center reopens Tuesday after distemper outbreak

Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 9:12 PM CDT
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PELL CITY, Ala. (WBRC) - The Pell City Animal Center will reopen Tuesday after closing on June 7 for a case of distemper.

The highly contagious disease has no cure, but thankfully the center’s vet has treated all the animals, and so far, they are responding well.

Red Mountain Animal Clinic Veterinarian Dr. Jerome Williams says distemper is spread easily through the air, but you can protect your dog by getting them vaccinated regularly.

“Vaccinate, vaccinate - that’s going to be the key,” says Dr. Williams. “It’s called a pan-tropic virus, which affects all the cells in the dog’s system. It’s most often noticed initially as a respiratory infection or a runny, snotty nose. And diarrhea. Those are the early signs we generally see with distemper.”

Sometimes the symptoms can be mistaken for rabies, but Dr. Williams says distemper attacks various systems within your dog’s body.

“It’s highly contagious. It’s spread by droplets and respiratory. Whenever you get it in an environment, it’s always very serious because it can spread by air,” says Dr. Williams. “It can affect just the GI and the respiratory. But the final stage of it affects the neurological signs and can cause seizures and paralysis.”

Dr. Williams says it’s best to get your pet vaccinated as early as you can, but also watch their surroundings and how they interact with other animals.

“Go through that series of vaccinations for your puppies and for your older dogs. Do that, and you can lessen the possibility of getting distemper,” says Dr. Williams. “Now it can be carried by raccoons, fox and coyotes, and other animals. So if your animal is in that environment, then they can get it through droplets and get distemper as well.”

Leaders in Pell City say their vet has cleared animals to return to their owners and be released for rescue.

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