Following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Chile in February 2010, residents of Dichato reported high morbidity and mortality in dogs, descriptions of which resembled canine distemper virus (CDV). To assess the situation, free vaccine clinics were offered in April and May. Owner information, dog history and signalment were gathered; dogs received physical examinations and vaccines protecting against CDV, and other common canine pathogens. Blood was collected to screen for IgM antibodies to CDV. In total, 208 dogs received physical exams and vaccines were given to 177. IgM antibody titres to CDV were obtained for 104 dogs. Fifty-four dogs (51.9%) tested positive for CDV at the cut off titre of >1:50, but a total of 91.4% of dogs had a detectable titre >1:10. Most of the positive test results were in dogs less than 2 years of age; 33.5% had been previously vaccinated against CDV, and owners of 84 dogs (42.2%) reported clinical signs characteristic of CDV in their dogs following the disaster. The presence of endemic diseases in dog populations together with poor pre-disaster free-roaming dog management results in a potential for widespread negative effects following disasters. Creation of preparedness plans that include animal welfare, disease prevention and mitigation should be developed.
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