HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) --A deadly outbreak at an East Bay animal shelter has lead to a cat quarantine.
Nearly a dozen cats had to be euthanized after they tested positive for, or were exposed, to a feline disease.
Eleven cats and kittens had to be euthanized at Hayward Animal Services this week because of feline pan-leukopenia, or distemper.
"It's extremely devastating to all staff and volunteers that are involved because we get very attached to these animals," said Jennie Comstock of Hayward Animal Services.
The disease is highly contagious and can spread easily through a shelter environment. So, for 21 days the surviving cats are under observation and no healthy cats can be dropped off.
"It gives us an opportunity to go through and thoroughly clean our shelter, disinfect it from top to bottom. So we're asking people not to bring them in at this time," Comstock said.
Veterinarian Carl Singer, who does not treat the cats at the shelter, has advice for cat owners.
"Keep your cats vaccinated, bring them to the vet. New cats,kittens brought into your house should be deemed healthy and separated from your own cat before you bring them together," Singer said.
Symptoms of distemper include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Kittens are most at risk. Humans can not catch the disease, but they can spread it.
"People need to take precautions, wash their hands. If they're in a shelter environment, wearing gloves, not putting their fingers in cages because anything like that can cross contaminate," Comstock said,
The shelter had an outbreak in June as well. They say the facility was cleaned, but the virus was reintroduced by a new cat.