Parvo Virus Hits Local Shelter

Those words are enough to strike terror into the heart of any animal control officer, anywhere.  Parvo Virus, a deadly, fast acting virus, has been in the state since the early 1980’s.  I remember it well.  I was a veterinary nurse, working at an emergency hospital, when it first hit.  It was devastating to see a normally healthy dog deteriorate and die within just hours of coming into the hospital and nothing anyone tried did any good.

Parvo Virus is an intestinal virus that causes a high fever, bloody diarrhea and vomiting in dogs.  Once the symptoms start, death usually occurs within 36 hours for about 95% of the dogs who contract it.  It’s that bad, and it’s that fast.

The usual victims of this virus are puppies or dogs who have not been vaccinated against it.  Treatment is pretty much just supportive although some veterinarians use antibiotics as well.  It is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by even just walking where a dog infected with the virus has walked.  It is passed through fecal material, however fecal material need not be present – the virus can stay on the feet of a dog who has had it and where that dog walks, so goes the virus.  The Parvo Virus is not transmissible to humans.

IF, and I do mean IF, the dog does somehow survive the virus (and treatment is expensive, requiring intensive hospitalization and round the clock care) some experts believe that the dog will continue to shed the virus through fecal material for up to six months.  This means that any dog walking in that dog’s area is susceptible to infestation.

So what to do?  VACCINATE!  I can not stress this enough…  Vaccination is the only way to prevent this terrible, awful virus from becoming an issue again.  There will always be cases out there, but the more we can prevent this, the better off we’ll be.

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