WEST PALM BEACH — The number of dogs in Palm Beach County coming down with a respiratory virus new to the state is on the decline three months after its first local appearance, said county animal officials.
About 7% of the animals in Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control’s custody have some sort of pneumovirus, according to Jan Steele, the program’s director.
That represents a “downward slide” from about 17% of its animals that were affected by the virus at the start of March, Steele said. She said the latest numbers signal that “we’re pretty much out of it.”
“The disease in Miami-Dade and up here seems to be slowing down,” Steele said after speaking with colleagues who work in animal care elsewhere in South Florida. “If it’s slowing down in cases here in the shelter, that tells me it’s slowing down in the county.”
From the start of the outbreak:A respiratory virus is sickening dogs in Palm Beach County. How to spot it and avoid it.
More dog news:A day for the dogs: Annual Walk for the Animals in West Palm Beach raises money for pets
Dog beach news:Dogs, other pets banned from sand at Juno Beach, but Jupiter’s dog beach is still open
The canine respiratory virus is new to Florida and was first detected in the state’s northern counties. Palm Beach County reported its first case in late January.
Pneumovirus causes infected dogs to sneeze, cough up a clear discharge, experience a runny nose and show signs of watery eyes.
In healthy animals, it’s unlikely the virus can cause life-threatening sickness, Steele said. However, if left untreated, the sickness can spread to the lower respiratory tract and become pneumonia.
Pet safety tips to help spot and avoid pneumovirus
Since Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is an open shelter, Steele said there’s no way to pinpoint where the infections started.
Even as case numbers fall, there are some signs pet owners should be on the look out for.
Here are some tips to keep dogs safe:
- Keep pets away from dogs with runny noses or eyes at dog parks and on walks.
- Keep pets away from dogs that are sneezing or coughing in public spaces.
- Keep newly adopted dogs separate from other dogs for about seven days.
- If pets develop symptoms, take them to the veterinarian.
Steele said Animal Care and Control immediately quarantines dogs that show any sign of respiratory illness. As of Monday, the center has 58 healthy dogs available for adoption.