Source: The South African (Extract)
August 31, 2022

A canine distemper outbreak in the ZF Mcgawu District has killed hundreds of dogs in the Northern Cape. The incurable disease is highly contagious but is preventable with a vaccine.


According to SABC News, the disease has claimed the lives of hundreds of dogs in Upington and surrounding areas in the municipality. Local vets are concerned about how the disease is spreading between dogs in townships.

Canine distemper is a zoonotic disease and cannot infect humans, however, it could infect some other animals.

The disease attacks dogs’ gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, according to the Kimberley SPCA, which attempted to answer many of the public’s questions after the Upington outbreak.

“It is almost always fatal.  There is no cure for the virus and veterinarians can only attempt to treat the symptoms.  NO HOME REMEDIES will save or cure your dog.  It is highly contagious, but cats and humans are NOT susceptible to the virus,” said the SPCA.

Canine distemper spreads through dogs’ bodily fluids, including saliva, conjunctival, faeces, urine and nasal exudates. It is most commonly spread from dog to dog through droplets from coughing and sneezing.

The symptoms may include fever, discharge from the nose and eyes, conjunctivitis, listlessness, coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea and more.


The best way to prevent infection is through vaccination. The SPCA said puppies should be vaccinated at least three times between the ages of six to 14 weeks. Thereafter, the vaccine should be administered on a yearly basis.

For unvaccinated adult dogs, two doses should be given three weeks apart followed by an annual jab.

According to SABC News, a canine distemper vaccine costs more than R300. “It’s something that has to be done but people can’t do it because they don’t have the money. So that’s again where the donations come in…,” said vet nurse, Larochelle de Klerk.