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Published: Jan 30, 2012

Distemper is an incurable and often fatal viral disease that typically affects puppies and dogs who have not had their dog vaccinations, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. The disease is highly contagious between dogs, and outbreaks tend to occur at places where groups of dogs spend time together, such as doggy day care centers, kennels and shelters.

The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) recently issued a pet health alert for the state's Valley region because they have noted an outbreak of distemper.  Distemper reports tend to peak in spring, around when puppies are born, but the early instances of the disease have some people worried.  Although there have been reports of new strains of the deadly virus, the American Veterinary Medical Association is in close contact with researchers working with distemper outbreaks and assures pet owners that the currently available distemper dog vaccines are highly effective and will protect pets.

Clinical signs of the illness may not be the same in every dog. If you notice that your canine companion has been coughing, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, or has thick discharge around the eyes and nose, you should visit your veterinary hospital for a thorough examination.

A dog with distemper should not be socializing with other canines, as this can spread the virus. If there have been distemper outbreaks in your region, you may want to avoid populated canine areas like dog parks.