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Distemper outbreak in north is killing dogs

An outbreak of distemper in the north has led to the death of around 100 dogs and animal shelters are temporarily shutting down to keep the problem contained.

Veterinary services and animal shelters in government-controlled areas were informed on Tuesday, according to Animal Party leader Kyriacos Kyriacou.

No cases of distemper have been reported in the Republic, he told the Cyprus Mail.

In a lengthy post on April 6, Kyrenia animal rescue (Kar) said there had been an outbreak of distemper and that it was closing down until further notice.

It said its shops were still open but that the rescue centre was no longer taking animals in or allowing animals out.

Kyriacou said at the moment there is no cause for concern as most dogs in government-controlled areas have been vaccinated.

Kar’s post specified emergency supplies were requested for ‘heavy duty vaccination along with supplies of intravenous Vitamin C – which is not currently out of stock’ in the north.

“New supplies are on their way from France – due to arrive over the next week or so – hopefully. Vets and staff will begin a massive program for all of the dogs left up at Kar to try and give them a chance against distemper – we do not know if it will work. We do not know if they will survive.”

Kyriacou said the north had not requested any assistance from the Republic and that even if they were going to, there was no procedure in place.

“There is no cooperation. If we need to, we will have to do this through NGOs or via technical committees.

“If there is an epidemic, will there not be a bridge of cooperation? Something needs to happen.”

He also stipulated there was no shortage of supplies in government-controlled areas to tackle the problem if cases of distemper were observed in the Republic.

Kar’s post said that one morning staff found a litter of pups abandoned at the centre and, as procedure outlined, they were health checked and placed in a quarantine area.

One puppy was snuffling and coughing and had a fever the next day. It was treated by a vet however distemper was not the first thing that came to mind as other illnesses can have the same symptoms, the rescue centre said.

“His condition, at the centre, further deteriorated over a period of time…at that point, it came to light that there had been a recent case of a dog with distemper in the Girne area. So the puppy was tested and the result was positive.

“The puppy was put to sleep and staff were advised to keep a close eye on the siblings. It was not long before they too became ill with distemper. The whole litter sadly was euthanized. That was the end of the problem so Kar and the vet thought. Not so.”

Over the next few weeks, more and more dogs were becoming ill and diagnosed with distemper. Hardly surprising, Kar said, as the disease can be transmitted by airborne viral particles breathed in.

“Staff were arriving in the mornings to find dogs had died overnight – it has been heart breaking for them.”

Canines both young and old were being affected by distemper and some were even going to be sent away to homes outside of the island.

“We have already lost 80 dogs to this outbreak of distemper we do not want to lose anymore – but we feel that it may be inevitable. But we have to try and give them all the best chance of survival that we can.”

Kyriacou said he had been informed that other shelters in the north had also temporarily closed down and that about 100 dogs have died of distemper.




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