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Canine distemper virus — usually found in southern states — is in Southwest Ohio

A black dog is resting on a metal table as a man holds his leash and two women stand in the background.
CARE Animal Shelter
A dog gets an examination at the Cincinnati Animal CARE shelter.

Canine distemper has been found in the area. Four dogs tested at the Hamilton County animal shelter in Northside have tested positive, and there's an unconfirmed case in Boone County. CDV can be fatal for dogs, but more commonly, just makes them sick.

Spokesman Ray Anderson says it's not something to panic over.

"For fully vaccinated adult dogs, this should not be a concern," he says. "This is a virus that was largely eradicated in this region. I think, most recently that I could find in news articles, was 2017."

The contagion does not harm humans, but can make dogs very sick. Anderson says symptoms can look like a cold or kennel cough, but it can become serious, even leading to death if untreated.

CDV can be spread by coyotes, raccoons and ferrets, but cats are safe.

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Anderson says the disease is usually found in southern states, and it's not clear how or why it's showing up here.

"Most of the animals that come to us, we have zero background on them and they can’t tell us why they're here, so that's where things can get really tricky," he says. "Research shows that about 50% of dogs that enter shelters are unvaccinated. Of course dogs immediately get the DHPP vaccine when they arrive here at the shelter."

Anderson says the Cincinnati Animal CARE Shelter has taken steps to keep the virus from spreading through the kennels and the community. He says dogs in the shelter are in quarantine until they get an all-clear.

He says dog owners should make sure their pets are up to date on vaccines.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.