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Parvo Virus

posted May 6, 2013, 3:51 PM by Jane PotcakePlace   [ updated May 13, 2013, 7:53 PM ]
Cassie fought this terrible virus over four days, and was given all the love and support possible from her foster family. She knew that there was a forever family already waiting for her to come in to their lives. She tried so hard to stay in this world, but her system gave way. She was being held by her foster parents when she died. Cassie was a very happy, playful pup who touched our hearts. We will always remember her.

Parvovirus is probably the most common viral illness of dogs at the present time worldwide. It can be very hard to successfully vaccinate a puppy for this disease because the antibody protection the puppy acquires from its mother can interfere with vaccination. Many vets recommend vaccinating puppies every three to four weeks for this virus starting at 6 weeks of age and continuing until they are at least 16 weeks of age. It is possible that this vaccine confers lifelong immunity once it does work but most veterinarians continue to recommend yearly vaccination for it.

Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system. It causes puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids. Puppies are especially prone to it because they have an immature immune system. When they contract parvo, they often have diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. Usually they stop eating and develop a bloody, foul-smelling, liquid stool. Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms appear as severe gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Canine parvovirus is carried by dogs. Adult dogs may be infected carriers without showing any clinical signs. Dogs with the typical diarrhea that parvovirus causes, shed the virus as well. It can last a long time in the environment, perhaps as long as 9 months or longer.  It can be carried on your shoes, clothing and hands.

It takes 4-14 days from the time of exposure for dogs and puppies to start showing symptoms and to test positive for parvo.

Parvo is highly contagious to unprotected dogs, and the virus can remain infectious in ground contaminated with fecal material for 5 months or more if conditions are favorable. Extremely hardy, most disinfectants cannot kill the virus, however chlorine bleach is the most effective and inexpensive agent that works, and is commonly used by veterinarians.

Without intense treatment, the victims of parvo die of dehydration. Treatment generally consists of IV or sub-cutaneous fluids and antibiotics. Veterinarians can only treat the symptoms palliatively, and try to keep the dog alive by preventing dehydration and loss of proteins. As there is no cure for any virus, treatment for parvo is mostly that of supporting the different systems in the body during the course of the disease. This includes giving fluids, regulating electrolyte levels, controlling body temperature and giving blood transfusions when necessary.

This is a very serious disease.  Some puppies infected with parvovirus will die despite prompt and adequate treatment.  While no extremely accurate statistics are available, a good guess is probably that 80% of puppies treated for parvovirus will live.  Without treatment, probably 80% or more of the infected puppies would die.

We can only imagine how many pups die alone from slow dehydration due to parvo in the wild on Providenciales. They remain without names, and not ever having the gentle hands of a loving family.  By taking in and fostering pups, we save the majority from ever coming in to contact with parvo, and those which do suffer are given all the support and treatment possible.
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