Distemper virus confirmed at St. Frances Animal Center

Georgetown County, SC - GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - Officials with the St. Frances Animal Center said Wednesday recent diagnostic tests have revealed the canine distemper virus to be present in a small number of animals at the shelter.

As a precaution to keep the virus from spreading, officials have decided to extend the facility's temporary closure to all animal intakes, surgeries, adoptions and medical care. The closure, according to officials, could last at least three weeks.

"The decision to close reflects our desire to eliminate any possibility of exposure to the community," Dr. Todd Brown of St. Frances said.

Officials are implementing quarantine procedures to protect the center's animals and those that are infected.

"This tragedy pushes the importance of vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and veterinary care to the spotlight," Brown added. "Distemper vaccinations are very effective in eliminating a dog's risk of contracting distemper."

Brown said the virus did not originate at the shelter, but rather was introduced by stray, unvaccinated pets brought to St. Frances from rural Georgetown County.

An outbreak of an infectious upper respiratory disease also forced St. Frances officials to temporarily cease operations at the shelter last week.

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