Warning on parvovirus

Dog owners are being reminded to be vigilant about vaccinations after The Veterinary Centre treated six confirmed cases of parvovirus last month.

While there were sporadic cases of parvo in dogs, it was very unusual to see six individual cases in three weeks, veterinarian Kevin Kearney said.

The dogs were widespread geographically within the centre's practice area - inland North Otago, the Waitaki Valley, East Otago, Maniototo and Strath Taieri.

Dogs become infected with parvo by oral contact with the virus in faeces, infected soil, or environmental fomites that carried the virus.

The incubation period, between a pup ingesting the virus and showing the classic clinical signs of a bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration and depression, ranged from three to 14 days but was typically five to seven days.

The mortality rate for infected dogs was greater than 90% without treatment. With prompt recognition and aggressive supportive therapy, including intravenous fluids, survival rates could approach 80%, Mr Kearney said.

Pups should be vaccinated at least twice, until the age of 14 weeks, then receive a booster at a year old, followed by boosters every three years.

Parvovirus was a very resistant virus that was able to survive in the environment for more than a year. It could survive freezing temperatures.

To help reduce its spread, areas where had infected dog had been in contact with needed to be cleaned with a virucidal product, or diluted household bleach.

Affected pups could shed the virus in their faeces for up to two weeks, so needed to be kept isolated so as to not infect other dogs.

Dog owners should also be vigilant about the biosecurity of pups, or dogs, of unknown vaccination history, coming on to their properties, he said.