3 Ways Humans Are Spreading Canine Distemper
There are many ways that the Canine Distemper virus is spread but did you know that humans are one of those main factors? Whenever we go to high-risk environments, where the virus is most likely found, we can pick it up and carry it to new areas. If we’re not careful, we may even bring it home and get our own pets infected. Here’s how it can happen:
1. Physical contact
The Canine Distemper virus is notorious for its ability to infect a wide variety of animals. These animals include dogs, foxes, wolves, coyotes, ferrets, skunks, raccoons, and pandas. Luckily, despite it being able to affect several species, humans are one of the exceptions. However, the virus can stick to our skin and use us as a vehicle to travel from one place to another. That means that we are potentially infecting susceptible animals in other locations.
Places like the groomers, breeding facilities, dog parks, dog hotels, pet daycare, and pet boarding stations are more likely to have contaminated areas or equipment. The reason being is because of the number of animals that go in and out of those establishments. Infected dogs may not show any signs of illness for as long as a month, so their pet parents, not knowing that their dog has Canine Distemper, may visit those places, allowing the virus to contaminate the area. Then, unsuspecting people can pick it up and take it to new locations, or worse, their own home.
Aside from our skin, the Canine Distemper virus can also stick to garments. These include things like shirts, pants, hats, jackets, shoes, slippers, and sandals. Since infected dogs shed the virus through feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and other bodily secretions, it can easily make its way into the outside environment.
The virus may not be able to live without a host as long as the Canine Parvovirus can, but it does survive for a good few hours. Vulnerable animals may come into contact with a contaminated garment and may contract the disease. All the while, us as humans did not even know the garmet was contaminated.
Another way the Canine Distemper virus can spread and infect more animals is through objects. These objects include, dog toys, bowls, pet brushes, blankets, kennels, carriers, beds, and even harnesses. For example, an asymptomatic dog that gets a haircut from a pet grooming salon can contaminate the hair trimmer. For the next few hours, dogs that get their fur trimmed using the same tool may end up contracting the virus.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Canine Distemper
1. Always wash your hands
It seems that we’re always told to wash our hands thoroughly, but it’s a good habit to have. Not only can it prevent the spread of diseases, but also keep us from getting sick ourselves. To avoid getting our pets sick, we should wash our hands before we touch them or prepare food for them, and after we clean after them, care for them (if they’re sick), or touch other animals.
Here are a few handwashing tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add to your daily cleansing routine to make sure all the disease-causing pathogens are gone.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
- Scrub your palms, the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
- Air dry your hands or wipe them on a clean towel.
2. Clean your clothes and shoes
After coming into contact with potentially contaminated surfaces or objects, it’s best to wash your clothes immediately. Don’t snuggle or hug your pet if you suspect that your shirt or pants picked up the virus.
Since the Canine Distemper virus isn’t as hardy as the Canine Parvovirus, washing contaminated clothes using laundry detergent and hot water is enough to rid it of the pathogen. To disinfect shoes, you can dip an old toothbrush in a mixture of cleaning powder and water, then scrub it all over, especially the soles.
3. Disinfect potentially contaminated objects
To prevent the spread of Canine Distemper, it’s very important to regularly disinfect your pet’s belongings, especially if they’ve recently recovered from the disease. You should also clean tools and equipment that you’ve let other pet owners borrow, which could be kennels, crates, foldable playpens, or grooming tools—anything that may have potentially picked up the virus.
When cleaning non-porous objects, like steel cages or kennels, you can use a diluted bleach mixture (1 part bleach, 32 parts water). Let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes and rinse. For fabrics, you can spray them down with bleach or put them in the washing machine with a reasonable amount of laundry detergent, making sure to set the water temperature to hot.