KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - One woman who fosters dogs from Kershaw County is sounding the alarm after three of her 11 foster pups died from a viral airborne illness.
Denise Kindle got her 11 foster puppies from Kershaw County. She currently lives in Wingate, NC on a farm. She told WIS it was only supposed to be for two weeks.
"Two days before they were to be transported and get their final round of shots, one puppy got sick."
Kindle's first puppy to fall ill was a female named Precious. It wasn't long after Precious got sick that another one of her siblings started exhibiting symptoms too.
Kindle's foster puppies showed symptoms of distemper. It's an airborne virus that attacks the nervous systems in unvaccinated puppies and dogs.
Distemper presents first with a green discharge from the dog's nose, then a fever and lethargic behavior. The virus then invades the nervous system as the animal begins to exhibit neurological symptoms like staggering, trembling, and seizures.
"I thought they were seizures. But to lose puppy after puppy after puppy, and then to think I was over the hump, but then another comes down with it, and another," Kindle explained.
Kindle has lost three of her 11 puppies to the virus. Two others affected will have lasting neurological issues. She said it's been a heartbreaking experience.
"The babies scream. And you're helpless, you can't do anything. When the tremors start, that is the last symptom and there really is no helping them," Kindle said.
The Kershaw County Humane Society has temporarily closed its doors after the outbreak. A release from the county reads in part:
"Since April, The Kershaw County Humane Society has seen seven highly suspicious cases of the canine distemper virus with one case positively confirmed. After consulting with a veterinarian expert on shelter medicine, temporarily suspending canine intakes and adoptions will allow the Humane Society to control, treat, and prevent the virus from spreading."
As the virus continues to spread, Kindle wants others to know that the illness is preventable. Puppies get a set of four distemper vaccines starting at 6 weeks old. They get their next distemper vaccines at 9, 12, and 15 weeks.
"They don't experience life. And it doesn't have to be. The vaccinations range around 10 dollars apiece. It has to stop," Kindle said.