The highly contagious canine parvovirus is quickly spreading near Decatur, Illinois. Northgate Pet Clinic said that in only three weeks, they’ve seen 30 parvo cases and 20 parvo-related deaths. Normally, they see one case every two to three months. The Macon County Animal Shelter has also decided to postpone dog adoptions until they get the virus under control.
Parvo is highly contagious, and it’s often deadly in puppies. Thus, vets and shelters are urging families to take precautions and keep dogs up to date on vaccinations.
What is Parvo?
Parvovirus is a contagious virus in dogs that attacks their digestive system. It’s most common in puppies under 6 months old.
Some parvo symptoms include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
“We’re seeing parvo like we haven’t seen it for years,” said Dr. Larry Baker of Northgate Pet Clinic. “We only have two isolation cages and it’s just difficult to treat.”
How Do Dogs Get it?
The virus is highly infectious and can be passed in many ways. The most common way it’s spread is through direct or indirect contact with feces or urine. It can also stay on surfaces that the infected pet came into contact with. Thus, dogs infected with parvo must be separated from other pets.
“There has been a serious uptick of Parvovirus cases within the community as of late. Macon County Animal Control has seen a high number of cases this summer, dogs coming in off the street already showing symptoms. Unfortunately, this puts all other dogs in the shelter at risk, whether they have received their vaccine or not,” wrote Macon County Animal Shelter.
Why is it a Risk?
Dr. Larry Baker explained that the majority of dogs die from parvo if left untreated. The virus will go through the digestive tract and then destroy bacteria and intestinal lining. The virus could eventually lead to shock or death. So, Baker stressed the importance of seeking treatment right away if your dog is showing symptoms.
“People definitely need to see a veterinarian if their dog has parvo,” Baker said. “[They’re] not going to survive otherwise.”
How is it Treated?
If a pet has parvo, they need to be hospitalized to get the necessary medications and fluids. Vets aim to keep dogs hydrated and to decrease their chances of vomiting. Dogs also need to eat a bland, highly digestible diet while recovering. Treatments can vary depending on the severity of the situation.
The best way to keep your dog safe is to vaccinate them, especially puppies. Puppies need several booster shots for the parvo vaccine, and all of them are equally essential. The vaccine is usually called DAPPv, and it protects dogs from many dangerous viruses.
Even if you don’t live near Illinois, it’s important to keep your dog vaccinated. You never know when they might come into contact with an infected dog, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.