Prairie Paws Animal Shelter is taking extra precautions when bringing in new dogs, Jaron Asher said.

After an infectious disease — thought to be distemper — resulted in the euthanasia of 40 dogs since February at the Emporia Animal Shelter, Asher said, Prairie Paws, 3173 K-68, Ottawa, isn’t taking the problem lightly.

“Any animal that comes in gets a full exam when it comes in the door,” Asher, operations manager and deputy director at Prairie Paws, said. “The problem with something like [an infectious disease] is that it can incubate for weeks before appearing, so we check them every day, checking to make sure the dogs are healthy and if not they go to isolation.”

Though Prairie Paws hasn’t seen any dogs at the shelter showing signs of distemper, Asher said, keeping canines up to date on vaccines can help prevent the spread of the disease.

“Make sure that animals are vaccinated for any of their normal vet shots,” Asher said. “If something new comes up, [animals] are more susceptible if they’re not up to date on vaccines.”

Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite are symptoms of the virus, Asher said.

“If there are signs and symptoms that are unexplained, call the vet right away,” he said.

The animal shelter in Emporia, about 52 miles southwest of Ottawa on I-35, is working with Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to run tests in hopes of figuring out exactly what the cause of the outbreak is, Dr. William Fortney said.

“We’re received some samples and have started testing,” Fortney, small animal outreach coordinator at the K-State lab, said. “We feel like it’s an infectious disease. It looks like it’s infectious, most of the dogs [at the Emporia Animal Shelter] are coming down with it so our emphasis is going to be on infectious diseases.”

A spokesperson for the Emporia animal shelter could not be reached for comment Monday.

The length of the testing in Emporia is unknown, as each test for different diseases takes different amounts of time, Fortney said.

“I don’t know how many tests we will have to do,” Fortney said. “Some tests are faster than others. Data will come in in pieces and you’re never sure which piece is going to give us that answer.”