Tests reveal that Iqaluit dog disease is distemper


An epidemic striking Iqaluit dogs in recent weeks has been verified as canine distemper.

Local veterinarian Heather Priest said she received confirmation of the diagnosis Jan. 15.

Priest said she’s treated around 20 dogs suspected of having the disease. Some are recovering, but many have been euthanized or died on their own as a result of the ailment.

Priest recommends owners keep their dogs from running loose. Healthy dogs should be vaccinated and kept away from sick dogs, she said.

Also, people handling sick dogs should wash their hands and change their clothes to stop the disease from spreading. Areas where sick dogs have been should be washed and disinfected.

Priest said although humans and cats can’t get the disease, they can still spread it to dogs.

She said precautions to contain the disease should be continued for three to four weeks after the outbreak is over.

Priest said it may be difficult to know when the risk has past, but stressed the importance of dog owners contacting the bylaw department if their dog shows symptoms of the disease.

Cases of the disease have been reported in Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Kugluktuk, but other communities should also be aware of the disease and how to protect their dogs, Priest said.

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