TULSA, Oklahoma - The City of Tulsa says its Animal Welfare staff is working to stop the spread of distemper. 

According to a news release from the City, several cases of canine distemper virus (CDV) have been confirmed since late March.

“Three weeks ago, two dogs tested positive for the virus, and since then, more cases have surfaced. This is a new and challenging situation for us.  TAW has not had a CDV outbreak in a decade,” said Animal Welfare Manager Jean Letcher.

The City says Animal Welfare staff has been consulting with experts at The Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, who have experience in managing CDV in shelters nationwide. They're also working with the HSUS Shelter Ally Project. “We are so grateful to both these organizations for their expert assistance,” Letcher said.

The City says all dogs adopted from TAW have been vaccinated for CDV, but the vaccine is not immediately effective. It says there's a very small risk of a dog contracting the virus during that time period. The shelter will continue to clear sick dogs for adoption as soon as they have passed two CDV tests. Those tests confirm a dog's resistance to the virus, and that the dog is not spreading the virus.

In the effort to contain the virus and prevent transmission, citizens who need to surrender a dog to the shelter are asked to delay for two weeks and foster the animal if possible. The shelter continues animal in-take while taking precautions to contain the virus and work with other local animal rescue operations.

The City's news release says CDV is a serious viral that affects dogs and other members of the Canidae family and can be fatal. It can strike dogs at any age but young, unvaccinated dogs and puppies are most susceptible.  The virus is found in bodily secretions and spread via inhalation. Once inhaled, the virus can move to the lymph nodes and then to the blood, spreading to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital and central nervous systems.

CDV can be treated. Many dogs are only mildly affected but even the more seriously affected dogs, including puppies, can recover if they receive the right care.