Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a contagious virus affecting dogs. The disease is highly infectious and is spread from dog to dog by physical contact and contact with faeces.

It can be especially severe in puppies. Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, and Pit bull terriers may be more susceptible howeverthe disease can affect any dog.

Dogs become infected through oral contact with the virus in feces or other contaminated surfaces.. Puppies are most susceptible. They are initially protected by antibodies received in the mothers milk (colostrum) while nursing. These antibodies however wear off before the puppy's own immune system is mature enough to fight off any infection.

Symptoms

These include, vomiting, fever, lethargy and diarrhea (usually containing blood). After a dog is infected, there is no cure, but dogs can recover from the infection with aggressive treatment. Some cases however will develop secondary infections causing deterioration and even death despite aggressive treatment.

Treatment

This is intensive and involves the use of antibiotics, intravenous fluids, anti-inflammatories and oral rehydration fluids. Patients are treated in an isolation facility to prevent contact with other patients.

Prevention

Because the virus is extremely hardy it can survive in the environment for up to a year. It is important that unvaccinated dogs are not exposed to potential contaminated sites and this usually means not exercising the dog outside the home environment until vaccination is complete. Avoiding contact with other dogs is also important during this time.

Vaccination of puppies and adult dogs is a very effective way of preventing the disease.