GLADSTONE is in the midst of a parvovirus epidemic.
Parvovirus is a highly infectious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular systems of dogs.
Veterinarian Dr Chris Dahl said his surgery alone was handling up to six parvovirus cases weekly.
“It is a big problem we are seeing here at the surgery half a dozen new cases every week,” Dr Dahl said.
“Parvovirus is not typical of normal virus as it stays in the environment for up to a year and every year when we get our first rains we seem to have a run of parvovirus, but this year we seem to have a particularly virulent strain.
“We have had some dogs that have even been vaccinated that got the parvovirus.
“They have survived as it was mild, however, puppies we really can’t save.”
Dr Dahl said dogs recovering from the virus or are suffering from the virus excrete it in all their body fluids. That is their faeces and their saliva – and they even say they can excrete it via the hair.
“Either of those you can carry on your shoes or your clothes, your car tyres. You can take it home very easily because it doesn’t die like most viruses,” Dr Dahl said.
The signs of parvovirus can be sudden onset of bloody diarrhoea , lethargy, unwillingness to eat and repeated episodes of vomiting. Parvovirus may affect dogs of all ages, but is most common in dogs less than one year old. Young puppies less than five months of age are often the most severely affected and the most difficult to treat.
“Vaccination is the only thing to stop it,” Dr Dahl said.
“It is best to get vaccinations for puppies at six weeks and then again at 12 weeks, for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and kennel cough.”
Most dogs with parvovirus infection recover if aggressive treatment is used.