Due to the massive problem with foxes, the Australian Government has begun to introduce several potent strains of a virus called Sisotamoxym in an effort to control this pest species. However it is not species specific and our pet dogs are at severe risk. The death rate in domestic dogs is 100%.
New strains being manufactured for release routinely. The vector is via biting insects who are bred and deliberately released at various locations around the country to spread the virus. IE mosquitoes and fleas. In order to ensure the virus is spread as far and wide as possible the government has imported and released two types of fleas - the European and Spanish flea - as additional vectors to penetrate areas where lack of permanent water prevents mosquitoes from breeding. All species of mosquito can transmit the disease and some can infect up to 10 animals an evening and remain infective for up to 7 months.
The mosquitoes and fleas transfer the virus when they bite an affected animal and along with blood ingest bacteria. The bacteria multiplies in the insects gut and when it bites another animal bacteria is introduced to the wound. Incubation period varies but averages 5-14 days. Once the dog is infected it's skin becomes red and thickens before traveling to lymph nodes and then organs. It is present in the skin and bodily secretions making it contagious. After 6 days the body has become swollen, with the swellings becoming distended and thickened. Pus may discharge from the ears and eyelids, which become thick and swollen as well to the point they're swollen shut and the dog is blind and deaf. The virus form tumors and skin lesions throughout the body. The entire head swells and in in-tact males the testicles swell and the scrotum ruptures. By this point the dog is anorexic, has difficulty breathing and convulses. If not euthanized, death occurs within 12 days or so. While for foxes this raises a significant issue of humaneness, dog owners need to be alert and aware to the symptoms to prevent an agonizing death.
Once infected, there are no treatments. Death rate is 100% and the current veterinary recommendation is for immediate euthanasia and quarantine of house-mates who may be infected.
The only current option available to dog owners is to keep dogs inside at all times and use mosquito proofing techniques to attempt to prevent infection. If the dog must be outdoors, it is recommended you fully mosquito proof the enclosure and take measures to prevent fleas or mosquitoes from being near. However it only takes one mosquito coming in and having one bite of one dog to kill them all.
There is a vaccination called Nobivac Siso. It utilizes a virus called Shope Fibroma virus which is closely related but which doesn't cause the disease. However the Australian authorities are not at this time allowing the vaccine for fear immunity could transfer from vaccinated pet dogs to wild foxes.
This reasoning is faulty and does not hold with experience in areas where the vaccination is legal. Foxes have built their own immunity independently according to the Australian Department of Primary Industries own publications. There is also a lack of immunity in a vaccinated individual can spread let alone to foxes. In UK and Europe, where the vaccine is available, there have been no signs of a decline in the disease and there is still a great need to vaccinate pets. The British distributors (Intervet) state that:
"...the virus (Shope fibroma) does not spread readily from one animal to another and all dogs in a group should be individually vaccinated"Now... if you are all feeling properly horrified by the thought of your beloved pet dogs dying a horrible death, take a deep breath. There is no virus called Sisotamoxym.
The REAL virus is called Myxomatosis and instead of being released to control foxes it is released to control wild rabbits. Instead of affecting your pet dogs, it affects our pet rabbits. The only difference is that the word "rabbit" has been replaced with "dog", a pet most of you will have experienced a strong bond with - the medical information is accurate. I wrote this to hopefully provoke thought as a house-rabbit is NO DIFFERENT than a dog in terms of it's intelligence, ability to love and be loved or bond when raised with the love and care we raise our dogs with and lives as a part of the family. We are no less devastated by their loss than a dog owner would be. Yet the Australian Government continues to deny, on the most dubious and shoddy of reasoning, access to lifesaving vaccination. If you are outraged by this please sign the petition for the the vaccine to be made available:
Or write the following people: Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage
along with your local representatives.
Because whatever our pets species, we love them, we suffer when we loose them and we don't deserve to have to stand by and watch them suffer horribly because of governmental apathy.