Usually at this time of year I send our supporters a recap of the year gone by. However, as many of you know, a serious distemper outbreak has occurred on Phuket. Many of Soi Dog’s supporters have asked to be kept informed about the outbreak, hence I felt it a better use of time and resources to keep you up to date on the situation. (My end of year update can be seen on Soi Dog’s website)
Heartfelt thanks to those who have contributed in helping with the funding of the expanded distemper vaccination program. It is only with your help that this urgent and important work can continue.
On the streets the work continues battling the distemper epidemic across the province. Soi Dog staff have risen to the occasion with many of them giving up their days off, working unpaid to address the crisis. Areas where distemper cases have been confirmed are being monitored regularly and fortunately no new cases have been reported at these locations. Neither have cases been reported at temples where we managed to vaccinate all the dogs prior to a case being confirmed. Only through your support and the dedication of the on ground staff and volunteers has this been possible. My heartfelt thanks to these selfless individuals!
The map reflects the situation as of 08 January 2011. The areas in black indicate where large outbreaks have occurred. Mobile teams have been quick to respond and the dogs in these areas have been vaccinated en masse. The areas in green indicate where cases have NOT been reported. Mass vaccinations have been performed in these areas in order to create “fire breaks” to minimize the spread of the disease. More areas require mass vaccinations to complete these “fire breaks”.
While this strategy reduces the risk of future outbreaks it is does not mean that some dogs did not already have distemper, in which case vaccination does not help. It can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to become obvious, so, even though dogs have been vaccinated we cannot be sure they had not already contacted the disease prior to vaccination. What we are doing is reducing the risks.
As discussed above the strategy being employed is to create a surrounding the areas where outbreaks have occurred, thereby reducing risk of the disease spreading. Mobile teams, supported by volunteers continue to work around the clock and the situation is being closely monitored so as to deal with additional outbreaks quickly.
Their have been no incidents of dogs catching distemper at the shelter which is good. The number of reports of new cases is falling, however this would quickly change for the worse if the expanded vaccination program is not continued. This is why your support is so important as the current vaccination protocol is four times more expensive them simply vaccinating for rabies.
Although much work remains to be done the signs are looking good as the number of new cases has fallen since the turn of the new year.
As discussed in our previous update we will vaccinate every dog that comes to the shelter or a mobile clinic whether for treatment or sterilizing. The expanded program will amount to between five and six thousand dogs per year. This is the same procedure we have followed with rabies vaccines for the past seven years and should in time see the eradication of distemper.
We thank all our supporters who have helped to fund the initial treatment and vaccination program and those who have committed to support the ongoing vaccination program which will add around 600,000 Thai baht ($20,000/15,000 Euro) to our operational costs per year.
You can help eradicate distemper through a monthly donation. Your monthly donation of $10 or $20 per month (33 or 66 cents per day) will vaccinate 3 or 6 dogs every month, helping to stop the spread of distemper and saving countless more lives. Please consider helping today.
The Soi Dog Foundation