HSNEGA using new isolation protocol for distemper recovering dogs

The Gainesville-based Humane Society of Northeast Georgia (HSNEGA) is using a new approach when it comes to the isolation of dogs recovering from distemper.


“65 dogs who were exposed to distemper during a recent outbreak at our shelter were spared a collective 1,950 days spent in isolation because of our veterinary team’s innovative approach to their care.

HSNEGA is among the first in the state to follow a new protocol based on University of California – Davis and University of Wisconsin – Madison research that eliminates unnecessary isolation time once an animal has recovered from distemper.

“We pursued a new form of diagnostic testing that prevented the immeasurable mental and physical tolls of extended isolation while safeguarding our animals’ health,” said Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Michelle Cox, DVM. “This new method of testing, which measures how much of the virus remains in the patient’s body, allowed us to clear animals once their viral load dropped below infectious levels.”

Prior protocol mandated every exposed animal, whether it tested positive for distemper or not, should be isolated for 30 days. Those who tested positive would require two negative results, though it can take up to six months for the virus to no longer be detected on a traditional diagnostic test. Using this new approach, all animals in the shelter’s care were cleared by the Department of Agriculture by March 18.

“Even under the best circumstances, shelter animals are forlorn and desperate for human interaction. Dr. Cox’s forward-thinking approach to illness not only saved their lives; she saved them from what would have been a detrimental, month-long setback in their journeys to forever homes,” said Allison Mayfield, president and CEO of the shelter.

We urge the public to vaccinate puppies once they’re of age, avoid environments and dog-to-dog contact where illness may be present and remain diligent about annual care.”

(Pictured is Nova one of the distemper-surviving dogs that still needs a permanent home.)