Parvo Virus Outbreak–What it is, How to prevent

by admin on June 18, 2011

We noticed a recent news feed about an outbreak of Parvo in York County. I asked Kirstin Madden, an Idaho pet medical center vet, about Parvo–exactly what it is and how to prevent it. Here’s her response:
What is it? “Canine parvovirus is a serious illness, and unfortunately is common in the dog population. The tough virus that causes the illness is resistant to freezing and sunlight, and can persist in contaminated soil for months.” The virus attacks the lining of the digestive system causing dogs/puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids.
What are the symptoms?
Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and listlessness. It also suppresses the immune system.
How is it spread?
“Dogs are exposed to the virus through contact with feces from infected dogs or soil contaminated with infected feces. In some areas, the infection is seen more commonly in the summer months, perhaps because dogs and their people participate in more outdoor activities then.
How to prevent?
Puppies are most vulnerable to parvovirus infection because their immune systems are immature and they may not have had a chance to respond to routine vaccinations.  Without treatment, most infected puppies will die, from dehydration and secondary infection caused by the bacteria in the intestinal tract. While treatment is successful in about 80% of cases, it requires intensive care and usually hospitalization for several days at the least. Puppies which survive the illness usually recover with no lasting ill effects and cannot be re-infected, but it is much more humane and cost-effective to make sure dogs and puppies are properly vaccinated.
A very effective vaccine is available to protect dogs. In young puppies, a series of parvovirus vaccines is recommended, because the protection puppies receive from their mother’s milk interferes with the vaccine for a period of time. Until several vaccines have been given, it is best to avoid exposing pups to areas where many dogs are known to visit. As an adult, vaccine boosters are recommended at least every few years, depending on the dog’s lifestyle and the veterinarian’s preference.

Thank you Kirstin! In our household, we wipe off our buddies paws after each walk and adventure. It’s just one of those responsible pet parent routines as, in addition to parvo, there are dangers like fertilizers and pesticides that collect on their paws and be ingested through their grooming routine.

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