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Canine Parvovirus is highly contagious and a very serious threat posed to dogs of all ages that attacks the digestive system and occasionally in extreme cases the heart. The disease was first identified in the late 1970's and is one of the most resistant viruses known at this time; being that it can withstand heat, cold, rain and most common disinfectants. While some areas may appear unaffected, the Fort Hood and Killeen areas are witnessing a serious epidemic especially in the last year or so. The technicians at the Fort Hood Veterinary Center alone are seeing as many as 3 cases a week. Many more go unobserved.
Where Does It Come From?
Parvo is transmitted through contaminated feces and vomit and can live in the soil for up to three years after the infected dog has evacuated the premises. During dry spells, the virus may even become airborne for short periods of time. Also, someone that comes in contact with a sick animal is capable of transmitting the virus home by way of "fomites" including but not limited to shoes, clothing, fur or even their skin. This is why it is imperative to properly disinfect before touching another pet.
Who Is Susceptible?
While puppies less than 14 months are the usual victims of this deadly virus, Parvo shows no bias when choosing its victims, and adult dogs are still contracting this virus along with dogs possessing weakened immune systems. Once an animal has contracted and beaten the virus, most dogs become immune; however some are able to contract it again. While scientist have been so far unable to prove their suspicions certain breeds of dog to appear to be more susceptible to the deadly virus. Such breeds include; Doberman Pinchers, Rottweilers, Pitt Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, and among the other black and brown breeds.
What Do I Need to Watch Out For?
This disease has an incubation time of anywhere between 3-14 days and is first characterized by loss of appetite, lethargy, fever and apparent depression. This quickly leads to vomiting and bloody diarrhea along with a smell not to be soon forgotten. Usually by the time sickness is noted the virus is full blown. If you suspect your pet may infected bring into your off post veterinarian immediately for testing and treatment.
Is It Treatable?
Recent studies have proven that around 80% of animals infected who do not seek treatment will succumb to the disease within an average of 24-72 hours of showing signs. The same approximate 80% will be able to fight off this disease, but only with proper help. Such help includes antibiotics coupled with immediate hydro therapy to replace electrolytes and combat dehydration brought on by the vomiting/ diarrhea.
Can I Prevent This From Happening?
Puppies under the age of 6 weeks are usually covered by immunities found in the mother's milk, however once these immunities wear off it is up to us to step in with vaccinations. At around the age of six weeks puppies are started on a series of shots known at "puppy boosters" these shots are administered generally at 6, 9, 12 and 15 weeks to prevent not only Parvo but Distemper, Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Adenovirus Type2, Canarypox Vector and Leptospira Bacterin. Along with proper vaccinations it is important to be sure to keep puppies away from areas such as parks, Petsmart, pet shops, obedience classes, doggy daycares and groomers until they are fully vaccinated.
If you suspect or know that an infected animal has come into contact with your house or yard clean-up is accomplished by using a 9-1 water to bleach solution and bleaching your home and especially your yard. Be sure to include concrete areas, dog houses and toys and to remove all feces from the premises.
Parvo doesn't have to win. We may not be able to eliminate the problem but together we can certainly work to prevent it.
page last modified on: 3/5/2014