Dogs put down due to infection outbreak

(WMC-TV) - Twenty dogs have been euthanized at Memphis Animal Services due to an upper respiratory infection outbreak.

Dr. Rebecca Coleman, the shelter's veterinary medical director, called it one of two new emerging canine viruses.

"This particular virus, known as pneumovirus, is like day care in that it spreads rapidly," said Coleman.

Coleman said pneumovirus only affects dogs and there are currently no vaccines.

"To the best of our knowledge, it's specific to dogs," said Coleman.  "Will not spread to people, will not spread to cats."

Dogs were put down in order to try to keep the illness from spreading inside the shelter, which has no quarantine area.  Three more dogs were diagnosed Thursday.

Coleman urged anyone with a dog that comes in contact with other dogs to watch for symptoms similar to those humans might get with a cold.

"Snotty nose, coughing, but we have an animal that still has a lot of energy," said Coleman.

Shelter officials still encouraged dog adoptions and said a more isolated environment could keep other animals from getting sick.

The city's new animal shelter is expected to open in November.  It will have proper isolation areas in the event of future outbreaks.

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