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Reference Desk April 2012

Increase in Canine Parvo Cases Prompts Vaccination Reminder by Pennsylvania SPCA

    puppies parvo PSPCA

    PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, April 6, 2012—The Pennsylvania SPCA is urging dogs owners to have their pets vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus (CPV or Parvo) after seeing an unusually high number of dogs with this often fatal disease in the past several weeks. “Parvo is one of the most deadly viral illnesses in our canine population,” said Dr. Lisa Germanis, a veterinarian on staff at the Pennsylvania SPCA. “In the past two weeks, we’ve seen more 20 cases of parvo in our veterinary clinic. Typically we don’t begin to see this many cases until later in the spring and summer.”

    According to Dr. Germanis, dogs of all ages can contract parvo, but puppies are more severely affected. The virus attacks the dog’s intestinal tract, white blood cells, and heart. Canine parvovirus is highly contagious, can live in the environment for over a year, and can cause life-threatening disease. It is fatal in more than half of cases according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

    “While puppies are most likely to suffer severe disease and death, any unvaccinated dog, of any age, can become infected with parvo,” said Dr. Germanis. Symptoms of canine parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and severe, often bloody, foul-smelling, diarrhea. Dr. Germanis recommends that you “see your veterinarian immediately if your dog is experiencing these signs. Catching the virus early may mean the difference between life and death.” Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following onset of clinical signs if not treated. Unvaccinated dogs obtain the virus where there are other dogs, the streets, and parks, so pets should not be brought to these areas until they are fully vaccinated.

    Although the Pennsylvania SPCA has not seen a similar influx yet this year, it cautions cats can also be affected by a feline form of parvovirus called panleukopenia. “Panleukopenia is also highly contagious and can be especially fatal to kittens. The clinical signs are the same as for dog’s with parvovirus,” said Dr. Germanis.

    Fortunately, parvovirus and panleukopenia can be easily prevented through vaccination. “Vaccination is the cornerstone of parvovirus prevention in both shelters and communities,” said Dr. Germanis.

    Source: Pennsylvania SPCA

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