… lockdown has left the dzongkhag without vaccines

Phub Dem  | Paro

Months after Paro saw the first Canine Distemper case towards the end of 2019, the dzongkhag’s veterinary hospitals today sees at least six cases every day.

Since the outbreak, the dzongkhag veterinary hospital treated around 940 dogs suffering from canine distemper.

Canine distemper is a viral disease that affects canids and felids, including dogs, and the infection is not zoonotic which means it does not transmit to human.

Although the infection was reported from all 10 gewogs in Paro, the number of cases was higher in Shaba, Lungnyi and Wangchang gewogs as of yesterday.

Senior veterinary officer, Dr Sonam Peldon said that due to the lockdown in India, the local pharmacy was not able to supply the vaccine to pet owners.

“Dogs have to get the vaccine every year to prevent the infection.”

The vaccine prevents the disease for a year. Stray dogs often don’t get vaccination since it costs Nu 600 a dose.

The dzongkhag’s measures to fight the outbreak include isolation of sick dogs, giving antibiotic, and proper burial of dead ones.

In the wake of Covid-19, local residents suspicious that the dogs may have contracted the novel coronavirus.   

Dr Sonam Peldon said that the canine distemper shows similar symptoms because both the diseases are viral infections. However, she said, canine distemper does not spread to human.

Paro was witnessing many cases of canine distemper due to clustered landscape, she said. “There are cases of canine distemper in Thimphu, Dagana and Haa but not as high as Paro.”

Around 250 pet owners have vaccinated their dogs against the infection so far this year.

Deputy chief dzongkhag livestock officer Loden Jimba said that the dzongkhag administration had notified the local government officials to create awareness on the outbreak and asked the people not to panic.

He said that the virus had a similar symptom like rabies such as fever, muscle twist, limpness, among others.

Although the virus was not infectious to human and other domestic animals, he said that the concern was spreading the virus to endangered species such as snow leopard, tiger and fox.

“We informed people to dump the carcasses properly.”

The dzongkhag administration has also reported the situation to the ministry.

The infections were reported mainly from non-vaccinated, stray dogs during winter. Officials said that vaccinating all pets and stray dogs would reduce the outbreak in the dzongkhag.