Spotlight Mexico: distemper outbreak in Cozumel

Eli in the picture is showing the match of her collar and Victor’s bracelet.During the month of June and beginning of July there was another outbreak within the island and also inside the shelter.

We are vaccinating at income but it seems that the protection provided by certain brand of vaccines we had for puppies was not enough. 11 animals inside the shelter had to be put down and more than 30 from outside (all over the island), almost everyone showing neurological signs. The inform to the laboratory to report the lot of vaccines involved in the outbreak has been done.

Karina Valenti the veterinarian at the HSC coded the animals in a very useful way. They had id bands to put around the neck of animals that are particularly used to identify kittens. The available colors at the shelter were: red, pink and blue.

So she classified dogs in 3 groups:

The blue ones were the animals over 1 year old or with more time in the shelter (survived the last outbreak and had 2 vaccines) with a natural resistance to the disease as well as 1 vaccine provided. She boosted all of them who needed so and they were attended by the kennel guy with the blue bracelet.

There was a pink one for those animals that showed no clinical signs but naturally were more exposed like youngsters with just a couple vaccines or one or that had less time in the shelter.

The red one was left for those animals that were in close contact with animals that tested positive to distemper and had to be put down.

Kennel workers had also pink and red bracelets. Red bracelet was only allowed to be with those dogs, with new incomes and with cats.

Eli in the picture is showing the match of her collar and Victor’s bracelet.

Another new prevention was to vaccinate the dogs within the block, neighbors to the Humane Society. In total 26 dogs were vaccinated in order to protect our dogs as well.

Sweet baby Chihuahua.Dogs in the pink group were allowed to walk outside after 2 weeks had passed. They were provided a foot bath as well, to decrease the possibility of having the virus transported in their paws. Foot baths have stayed for both personnel and visitants, they are also asked to put antibacterial gel on their hands and arms.

Sweet baby Chihuahua had just gastrointestinal signs, was found by the street and taken to HSC. We don’t have facilities or staff to hospitalize animals, but as we had 2 interns vets from Canada and they volunteered she had fluids and vet care all day round. She had improved but after a couple of days she developed a classical sign of distemper in dogs: hyperkeratosis of the paws and unfortunately she had to be put down.

Now after 24 days of the first positive dog inside the shelter we have everyone except for the new incomes as blue.


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Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Ellie Milano, Program Officer, Companion Animals
Program Officer, Companion Animals
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters