Hundreds of dogs dying in Northern Cape due to canine distemper

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Hundreds of dogs in the ZF Mgcawu District municipality in the Northern Cape are dying due to canine distemper. Vets are worried that it is spreading especially among dogs in townships. Canine distemper is difficult to treat but easily prevented with a vaccine.

The disease is not zoonotic, meaning it can’t be transmitted to humans. But veterinarian Dr Ian Venter says it can be transmitted to some wildlife.

A simple vaccination can prevent canine distemper. But it’s expensive, with one shot costing more than R300. Puppies need four shots, while adult dogs need one per year.

Infected dogs develop pus-like discharge from their eyes, a fever, nasal discharge, coughing and vomiting among others.

Veterinary nurse Larochelle de Klerk explains: “It’s something that has to be done but people can’t do it because they don’t have the money. So that’s again where the donations come in. People think they have to have dogs. Some people say if you have a dog you have to at least be able to afford a vaccination which unfortunately, it’s not the way most people feel.”

Many dogs in Northern Cape dying of canine distemper: