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An Update on the Distemper Outbreak at Animal Resources & Care

Press release from Alachua County

The following is a statement from Alachua County Animal Resources and Care Director Ed Williams to update the public on the canine distemper virus outbreak at the shelter:

Animal Resources & Care (formerly Animal Services) has now documented a total of five dogs infected with the canine distemper virus. In accordance with current industry best practices, we quarantined the dogs with direct exposure as soon as we learned of the first confirmed case. We tested those dogs in order to determine if, and how far, the virus had spread. And we have been careful to keep the dogs without direct exposure separate and monitor them for symptoms.

We have attempted to reduce the number of incoming dogs, and we’ve kept those that must be admitted separated by a “clean break” from the rest of the population. Different staff are dedicated to providing care for the dogs in each area to prevent cross-contamination.

As a precaution, shelter staff have also contacted everyone that adopted, reclaimed, or transferred a dog from Animal Resources & Care during the month of December to ascertain whether their adoptee was symptomatic and to offer drive-by testing in the shelter parking lot. To date, no additional cases of infection have been found in those dogs.

To date the department has issued two press releases and conducted several media interviews to both inform and educate the public about the importance of routine vaccination against this and other infectious diseases. We have reached out to the local veterinary community, their Placement Partners, and their volunteers via email & social media. And we’ve sent multiple emails and have held meetings to inform & educate their staff.

Through careful management of this exposure to the canine distemper virus, the Animal Resources & Care team have truly maximized lifesaving and minimized further spread of the virus. We wish to thank their dedicated staff & volunteers without whom this would not have been possible.

Animal Resources & Care is hopeful, barring the discovery of any new cases, we will be able to resume adopting shelter dogs on February 1, 2022. Stay tuned for confirmation and to learn about the exciting adoption events we have planned for February.