BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - In March, a case of distemper had stopped dog adoption at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter.
The quarantine was expected to last for 14 days, but has already lasted three weeks. Now, the shelter is extending the quarantine, once again, for an additional two weeks.
"We are still getting animals showing signs of distemper its important to have them isolated to prevent the spread throughout the county or the healthy homes," said David Stanley with Environmental Health Services.
According to the Brunswick County Health Department, several dogs at the shelter developed a respiratory illness in March. Lab results confirmed the cause is distemper, a highly-contagious disease.
So far three dogs have died from the outbreak and seven others have gotten sick. Animal services is trying to prevent those numbers from growing.
The Health Department said they are seeing more signs of distemper in stray dogs that are being brought into the facility.
"It's very contagious, but we don't want to bring stuff in and then turn around and adopt it back out and let it spread even more, so we're trying to contain it," said Brunswick County Animal Service Director David Swain.
Shelter workers are trying to contain the virus by keeping sick dogs away from the rest of the shelter's animals and constantly disinfecting the kennels.
Symptoms can be hard to identify because they can show a range of problems from loss of appetite and vomiting to fever, eye inflammation, and coughing.
"Eventually, they'll start fainting or getting numb on one of their sides and eventually they'll die from it," said Swain.
Prevention is the only cure. Dogs can be vaccinated against distemper, but once they get it, there is no treatment.
"As a result, effective immediately the Brunswick County Health Department's Animal Services Shelter will not be offering for adoption any dogs as part of a comprehensive infection control plan," Fred Michael said in a statement. "A decision will be made regarding future adoptions after an assessment is completed at the end of the two week period."
Animal Services will still pick up dangerous or vicious dogs and continue rabies investigations. All services for cats, including adoption will still be available.