UAE vets warn dog owners to be aware of outbreak of deadly canine disease

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Veterinary surgeons in the UAE are urging dog owners to have their pets vaccinated and not to socialize with other animals after reported outbreaks of the deadly canine disease distemper.

Across Dubai, many pet owners say their dogs have been diagnosed with distemper, a highly infectious and often fatal viral disease.

Some of the dogs have died, leaving owners heartbroken.

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Albert Alcopora, a veterinary nurse at the British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai, said vets within their clinic were aware of cases of distemper and warned that a new strain could be in the UAE, as dogs vaccinated against the disease were being diagnosed with the disease.

While vaccinations provide a protective barrier between pets and these type of diseases, he said dog owners should avoid socializing their animals at the moment.

“The strange thing is it could be a new strain,” Alcopora told Al Arabiya English.

“Even vaccinated dogs are being infected,” he said.

“The best prevention to avoid the transmission of the disease through saliva and other bodily fluids is to avoid direct contact with other dogs,” Alcopora added.

Alcopora advised dog owners to take their dog directly to the vet if they see signs of distemper – symptoms such as discharge from the eye or nose.

"However, give them warning that your dog may have distemper so they can isolate your pet so not to infect healthy animals as it is a very nasty virus,” he added.

“Make sure your dog’s vaccination is up to date and when walking your dog avoid direct contact with other dogs. Prevention is better than cure.”

In Dubai Hills, dog owner Amy le Roux said her 16-month-old puppy, which is vaccinated against distemper, is currently fighting for its life after contracting the disease.

“I want to let everyone know there has been an outbreak of distemper in Dubai Hills; to the best of our knowledge two dogs have died and one is currently fighting to get better but there may be more cases we are not aware of,” she said.

“Vets have also confirmed there has been a sudden rise in cases within the UAE.”

“This is a heartbreaking virus which currently has no cure. My dog is currently fighting for his life so please be very vigilant of who your dog is socializing with. If they show any of the symptoms please take them to the vets immediately,” she said.

Symptoms include watery/pus like eye discharge, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting, tremors/ticks, problems with balancing or walking and seizures.

“I do not wish to scare anyone, I simply want to make people aware,” said the Dubai resident. “I did not know of this virus and had I not been aware of a previous pup who died in my area, I wouldn’t have known to ask the vet to test him when he started showing first early symptoms.”

“My gorgeous boy is a fighter and we are doing all we can to help boost his immune system so he can try fight this horrific virus please all hugs your fur babies extra tight and keep a close eye on them. I hope nobody else has to experience our fear and pain.”

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