Maddies Lab Saves Seventeen Shelter Dogs

February 2011

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

The lives of seventeen shelter dogs were spared when a test* for canine distemper virus conducted by the Maddie's® Laboratory for Diagnosis and Prevention of Shelter Diseases at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed the dogs had protective antibodies. All had been exposed to a distemper-diseased dog, but blood tests revealed all seventeen to be at no risk of either contracting or spreading the virus, and could thus be made available for adoption. Shelters without access to this kind of information would normally depopulate exposed dogs for fear of a disease outbreak.

Maddie's® Lab Director Dr. Ron Schultz, one of the nation's foremost experts in veterinary immunology, virology and the pathogenesis of infectious disease, was ecstatic about the news, as was the shelter's veterinarian. Reports Dr. Schultz: "About a month ago, this shelter had a similar situation. A positive dog was found and they euthanized all eight contact dogs. I told the veterinarian that if they ever have a similar situation, to send us blood samples and I can tell them which dogs are at risk of getting infected.... so she did! She was really pleased to learn she didn't have to euthanize this group!"

The Maddie's® Lab is offering diagnostic testing to shelters which supply data in the expanded Asilomar Accords format. In addition to canine distemper, the lab will test for parvovirus, panleukopenia, canine influenza and a variety of respiratory illnesses. The service is provided at no cost to the shelters, thanks to a grant from Maddie's Fund. For more information about Maddie's® Lab testing, contact Dr. Laurie Larson (LarsonL@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu) or find information and submission forms on their website.

*The Maddie's® Lab used a rapid ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) Immunocomb® VacciChek test to look for canine distemper virus antibody: results were validated by a virus neutralization test.

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