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The Dreaded Parvovirus; What is it?

Today is Thursday and as there have still not been any adoptions this week, Moira and I decided that we better blog before you all think that we have fallen off the map! Sadly the subject is not a joyous one, but concerns something that is very topical.

Many people are aware that there is an outbreak of Parvovirus in the area, and whereas it has so far not touched the ScPA Carcassonne, one never knows. Everyone is being super vigilant and with any luck we may escape this time, but it is as well to be aware of the illness, how it is transmitted and the damage it can do.

To quote Vet Med, Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. The virus attacks rapidly, dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problem. If the dog survives at all, that is.

The symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody foul-smelling diarrhoea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

Not nice, eh? The disease is extremely contagious, and can live in the environment for many months. It can survive on food bowls, clothes, concrete, grass….in fact just about every surface that is found at refuges. The higher the concentration of dogs, the higher the risk of infection, obviously.

Any dog who does not have his two vaccinations can be infected, and at the ScPA, where numerous dogs can arrive on any given day, there is always a number of dogs at risk. It takes a minimum of three weeks for each dog to have his two vaccinations. Puppies are most at risk, but the disease is also caught by adults, especially those with compromised immune systems due to old age or being underweight as well as having infections. And that can apply to many of the new arrivals.

It is easy for those who don’t know how refuges work to say “yes, but surely you keep them in quarantine and everything is fine”. Except the dogs have to be taken to and from the vet, meaning there is always a risk of cross contamination, no matter how careful people are. Especially as symptoms can take several days to show, typically 3-10 days.

Some refuges refuse the entry of all non-vaccinated animals during a parvo outbreak. The ScPA does not have this luxury, as we act as the Pound for a huge area. As I say, so far all is well at the ScPA and we plan to keep it so. If you are visiting please listen carefully to any instructions from staff about which dogs to take out, as we really don’t want any of our dogs to get ill.

We will have news of an adoption tomorrow, we promise, but in the meantime, take heed, and please vaccinate your dog; you just never know.

About Darcey Dyson

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