Many factors influence the occurrence of infectious diseases in populations of animals. These include housing them together in a confined space, mixing groups with different backgrounds and previous exposures, admitting debilitated and sick animals, and subjecting them to a stressful environment. Sound familiar? These are factors inherent to gathering animals in animal shelters. It’s not surprising that the risk of infectious diseases is always present and that some infectious diseases are endemic in our shelters.
A huge challenge facing shelters is to keep their animals as healthy as possible. Strategies to prevent disease are preferable, but when they fail, shelters must be prepared to protect animals not yet affected and care for those that are already ill.