Friday May 24th, 2024 8:58AM

Humane Society of Northeast Georgia among first in state to use groundbreaking distemper treatment

By Hamilton Keener Anchor / Reporter

65 dogs who were exposed to distemper during a recent outbreak at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia were spared a lengthy isolation period thanks to the veterinary team’s innovative approach to their care.

The society's Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Michelle Cox said they were among the first in the state to follow a new protocol based on University of California - Davis and University of Wisconsin - Madison research that reportedly eliminates unnecessary isolation time once an animal has recovered from distemper.

“We pursued a new form of diagnostic testing that prevented the immeasurable mental and physical tolls of extended isolation while safeguarding our animals’ health,” Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Michelle Cox, DVM said. “Similar to Covid-19, patients with distemper may continue to test positive though they’re no longer contagious. This new method of testing, which measures how much of the virus remains in the patient’s body, allowed us to clear animals once their viral load dropped below infectious levels.”

Previous protocol mandated that every animal exposed to distemper should be isolated for 30 days whether it tested positive or not. Animals that test positive require two negative tests but it can take up to six months for the virus to no longer be detected on a traditional diagnostic test.

Using the new method, all animals in the shelter’s care were cleared by the Department of Agriculture by Mar. 18.

“Even under the best circumstances, shelter animals are forlorn and desperate for human interaction. Dr. Cox’s forward-thinking approach to illness not only saved their lives; she saved them from what would have been a detrimental, month-long setback in their journeys to forever homes,” Allison Mayfield, president and CEO of the shelter said. “We’re deeply grateful for Dr. Cox’s thoughtfulness and commitment to delivering a high standard of care, as well as our community whose generosity allowed us to pursue this more extensive treatment.”

HSNEGA previously closed Mar. 3 through 18 to address distemper and parvovirus. Shelter officials urge the public to vaccinate puppies once they’re of age, avoid environments and dog-to-dog contact where illness may be present and remain diligent about annual care.

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  • Associated Tags: gainesville, hall county, Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, Virus, distemper
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