PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Some animal shelters across the state of Florida, now including Pinellas County, have temporarily suspended dog adoption and intake due to a highly contagious virus.
It was announced Wednesday that animal services in Pinellas County would be suspended beginning Thursday and would likely stay suspended until the end of December.
The county says ''canine pneumovirus" is generally not fatal to dogs, and no animals at Pinellas County Animal Services have died due to this virus.
"The virus likely came into the shelter through one of the dogs, and could be present elsewhere in Pinellas County," the county's website explains. "Contact your veterinarian if your pet is showing signs such as sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes or coughing."
Stephan Carey, an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says the uptick in cases across the country may be caused by the "increased commingling of dogs as COVID restrictions have relaxed and people resumed activities outside the home."
In Miami, animal services are urging dog owners to get their animals vaccinated and to limit dog-to-dog contact. According to Miami-Dade Animal Services, the virus is a part of the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC.)
"Canine infectious respiratory disease complex is like a canine flu or canine cold. It's multiple viruses that affect the respiratory tract and causes respiratory symptoms. Sneezing, coughing, and hacking," Dr. Maria Serrano, a veterinarian at animal services, told CBS Miami.
The outlet noted that the virus has an incubation period of less than a week and can spread before dogs can develop symptoms.
"Stay away from places that have dogs conglomerating. So, dog parks, groomers, just anywhere where there's a lot of dogs together. Also, avoid nose-to-nose contact between dogs," said Serrano.
Back in the Tampa Bay area, Hernando County suspended dog adoptions and intakes back in November due to the virus and in October, Pasco County suspended its dog services for four weeks.
Humans and cats can't catch the virus.